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Putin orders surprise drills in two military districts

February 26, 2014, 16:53 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the Defence Ministry to hold surprise military exercises to check combat readiness of armed forces in Western and Central Military Districts
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Vladimir Putin (C) and Sergei Shoigu (L) watch military drills in July 2013

Vladimir Putin (C) and Sergei Shoigu (L) watch military drills in July 2013

© ITAR-TASS/Alexei Nikolsky

MOSCOW, February 26. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed the Defence Ministry to hold surprise military exercises to check combat readiness of armed forces in Western and Central Military Districts as well as several branches of the armed forces, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday.

“According to the orders given by the Russian president, troops in the Western Military District, detachments and military units deployed in the district, the 2nd Army of the Central Military District, the Command of Aerospace Defence Troops, Airborne Troops, long-range and military transport aviation were suddenly put on alert at 14:00 Moscow time (10:00 GMT),” Shoigu said at a meeting in the Defence Ministry.

“The Supreme Commander-in-Chief has set tasks to check capability of troops to take actions to settle crisis situations that pose a threat to military security of the country as well as terrorism-related, sanitary epidemiological and man-made emergencies,” Shoigu noted.

“The surprise drills are planned to have two stages from February 26 until March 3. I order the Chief of the General Staff to put on high alert troops involved in the surprise military exercises at their first stage on February 26-27 and to deploy them at multiservice and sea-based firing grounds,” Shoigu said. At the second stage of the drills from February 28 until March 3 the chief of the General Staff is ordered to hold “a tactical drill involving the 6th and 20th Armies in the Western Military District, the 2nd Army in the Central Military District and the Command of the Airborne Troops.”

Meanwhile, bilateral tactical exercises with formations and military units of the Northern Fleet and the Baltic Fleet will be held at the second stage of the surprise military exercises. Some part of aviation of the 1st Command of the Air Force and the Air Defence Troops will be redeployed to operational airfields, including with mid-air refuelling.

“You should be ready for bombing at unknown firing ranges,” Shoigu said. Meanwhile, anti-terrorism measures will be taken at all military townships in the Western Military District. The minister ordered commanders to report to him daily about fulfilment of these instructions.

“Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov must inform military attaches of foreign countries about surprise military exercises to check combat readiness of troops in Western and Central Military Districts,” the minister said. He noted that the Defence Ministry had planned a meeting over fulfilment of the state defence order, but this meeting is delayed for a later date over the surprise drills ordered by the Russian president.

The troops are to return to permanent deployment bases before March 7.

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