MOSCOW, March 18. /TASS/. The Russian Armed Forces have promptly built up the combat capabilities of its groups in the Arctic, Crimea, and the Baltic region, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Wednesday.
"The combat capabilities of combined groups of troops in the Arctic, the Baltics and in Crimea were built up in a fast-tracked mode," he said.
Shoigu noted that Russia’s sudden military inspection of the Northern Fleet’s combat readiness, which started on March 16, enables the newly established Arctic unified strategic command to practice control of forces for the first time.
According to Shoigu, the sudden combat readiness inspection "is of particular significance since it enables the new unified strategic command to practice for the first time coordinated control over all forces."
The Unified Strategic Command ‘Sever’ (North) was formed with the aim of protecting the country’s interests in the Arctic and started to operate in late 2014.
"Moreover, armaments and military hardware the Northern Fleet has recently received will undergo testing," Shoigu said.
The Russian defense minister added that about 76,000 troops, almost 100 battle ships, vessels and submarines, and also more than 200 aircraft and helicopters are taking part in the Russian Northern Fleet's combat readiness snap check.
Shoigu said a total of 65 warships, 16 support vessels and 15 submarines were involved in the Northern Fleet’s combat readiness check along with over 10,000 pieces of the armor and special equipment.
Russia’s Armed Forces are for the first time holding their Arctic exercises that kicked off on Monday and will last through March 21.
The exercises involve the Northern Fleet, units of the Western Military District and the Airborne Forces. A total of 38,000 personnel are taking part in the drills together with 3,360 pieces of military hardware, over 55 battle ships and submarines, 110 aircraft and helicopters.
The Northern Fleet’s combined attack force has held joint exercises with two search and strike ship groups in the Barents Sea.
Crews of Ilyushin Il-76 ("Candid") military transport planes have delivered the airborne unit stationed in Ivanovo outside Moscow to a military aerodrome in the polar region where servicemen will practice the accomplishment of various tasks.