Putin orders surprise military exercises in Black Sea

Russian President Vladimir Putin aboard the nuclear submarine Arkhangelsk in 2004

From Reuters:  President Vladimir Putin ordered the launch of large-scale Russian military exercises in the Black Sea region on Thursday , his spokesman said, in a move that may create tensions with Russia’s post-Soviet neighbors Ukraine and Georgia.

Putin issued the order to start the previously unannounced maneuvers at 4 a.m. Moscow time (12.00 a.m. EDT) as he flew back from an international summit in South Africa, his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters by telephone.

"These are large-scale unannounced test exercises," Peskov said, adding that 36 warships and an unspecified number of warplanes would take part. "The main goal is to check the readiness and cohesion of the various units."

From AFP:  The order was presented to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in a sealed envelope at 4:00 am (2400 GMT), his spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies, adding the exercises would involve 36 ships and up to 7,000 troops. . . .

Peskov said that Putin had already warned the armed forces that they would be subject to sudden checks of their battle preparedness.

"If we remember what the president said at the council of the defence ministry a little time ago, then we will remember his words that the practice of sudden checks will continue," Peskov added. . . .

Aviation, paratroopers and special forces would also be involved, Peskov said. . . .

Peskov said the exercises would take place on three military test ranges on Russian territory.  (photo: AP)

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