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Putin to visit Kavkaz-2020 drills in southern Russia

The exercise involves about 80,000 personnel
Bal coastal missile system launching a missile Yuri Smityuk/TASS
Bal coastal missile system launching a missile
© Yuri Smityuk/TASS

MOSCOW, September 25. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit the Kapustin Yar training ground in the Astrakhan region on Friday, where he will observe the main stage of the Kavkaz-2020 drills.

Putin's upcoming trip is one of the few during the coronavirus pandemic. At the end of July, the president visited Crimea, and on September 14 held talks in Sochi with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, with whom, in particular, he discussed holding joint military exercises.

The Kavkaz-2020 drills, running from September 21-26, led by Chief of the General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov, are underway in Russia’s Southern Military District and in the Black and Caspian Seas. The exercise involves about 80,000 personnel, including officers from the Russian Emergencies Ministry and the Russian National Guard. Furthermore, this is a multinational endeavor which includes up to 1,000 servicemen from Armenia, Belarus, China, Myanmar and Pakistan. Representatives from Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Sri Lanka are participating as observers, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

In addition, Russia’s top brass said that roughly 250 tanks, up to 450 mechanized infantry fighting vehicles and APCs, as well as up to 200 artillery systems and multiple-launch rocket systems were set to be used in the exercise on firing grounds. About 12,900 troops are going to take part in activities in line with the 2011 Vienna Document of the Negotiations on Confidence-and Security-Building Measures.