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Post-Soviet security bloc paratroopers begin march to North Pole to drill rescue operation

April 08, 2015, 17:34 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The military are to cover the distance to the North Pole without equipment, using snowshoes and skis

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MOSCOW, April 8. /TASS/. Russian paratroopers together with contingents of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) member states’ rapid deployment forces have started a foot march to the North Pole area where they will conduct a search and rescue exercise, Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Yevgeny Meshkov said on Wednesday.

The military are to cover the distance to the North Pole without equipment, using snowshoes and skis.

"The paratroopers on the march will overcome various terrain, using their skills, in particular, in negotiating water obstacles by either making a bridge or swimming across using special immersion suits," Meshkov said.

A doctor is accompanying the paratroopers on the march, the VDV spokesman said. The soldiers will keep a distance between them depending on the conditions on a particular section of the route - from 5 metres in ridged ice areas to 25 metres on thin ice. This march order allows each paratrooper in the column to give a hand to the paratrooper moving ahead, the spokesman said.

For the first time in history, units of the VDV of Russia and CSTO on Tuesday performed mass landing on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean. Paratroopers of the Ivanovo and Pskov airborne troops units jointly with contingents of the rapid deployment forces of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation member states were successfully air dropped on a drifting ice floe in the Arctic Ocean, for the first time in history, Commander of the Russian Airborne Troops Colonel General Vladimir Shamanov told TASS on Tuesday.

He said 100 paratroopers from Russia, Belarus and Tajikistan were drilling skills as part of the training humanitarian rescue and search programme. "Today, 100 paratroopers, including 85 Russian and 13 Belarusian and Tajik servicemen, were air dropped in the area of the North Pole," he said. "They made parachute jumping from An-74 airplanes. They landed near the Kupol polar station on drifting ice in the exact vicinity of the North Pole."

In the next seven days, they will drill skills necessary to survive in conditions of extremely low temperatures, to rescue polar explorers and crews of crashed planes and wrecked ships, Shamanov said, adding that they would use dogsleds, skis, paraplanes and hang-gliders.

"This is the first-ever international humanitarian search and rescue expedition to the North Pole made by airborne troops of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation," he said.

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