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Southwestern 'strategic direction' remains Russian military’s priority — General Staff

September 14, 2016, 16:46 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The North Caucasus military district and the Southern Military District are the first to get advanced weapons and gear

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© Sergei Bobylev/Russian Defence Ministry Press Office/TASS

MOSCOW, September 14. /TASS/. The chief of Russia’s General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, has said that the "south-western strategic direction" remains a priority for the Russian military and the troops stationed there are the first to get the newest military equipment.

"The southwestern strategic direction is a priority. First, the North Caucasus Military District, and later the Southern Military District - have been and remain a priority. They are the first to get advanced weapons and gear," Gerasimov told a news briefing on Wednesday.

The share of advanced equipment in the army aviation of the Southern Military District is as high as 80%.

"There are no more helicopters that were used in the first and second Chechen military campaigns, when getting them up in the air was a problem. There are fundamentally new technologies," Gerasimov said.

"This concerns the Aerospace Force and the Ground Troops and other arms and services," the chief of the General Staff said.

Gerasimov also mentioned the method that the Russian Armed Forces had used in holding large-scale exercises similar to the Kavkaz-2016 war games that took place on September 5-10. Preparations for the exercise had begun back in February, when the forces of the Southern Military District were alerted in a surprise combat readiness check. In March and July there were two large-scale command staff drills. Last August saw twelve special drills involving all types of logistics. One week before the strategic exercise a snap check of troops in southern Russia was held and starting from September 5 the district was comprehensively prepared for the exercise," Gerasimov said.

The Kavkaz-2016 military exercise involved 120,000 of military and civilian personnel. In Russia’s southern areas no more than 12,500 troops were participating in the drills at any one time.

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