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Russia starts largest snap military exercise in post-Soviet period


14:11, July 14, 2013

MOSCOW, July 13 (Xinhua) -- About 160,000 servicemen early Saturday participated in Russia's largest snap combat readiness military exercise since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia's defense minister said.

The large-scale military drill also involves nearly 1,000 tanks and armored fighting vehicles, 130 aircraft from a wide range of units and 70 naval ships, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on a conference call, according to the Ministry of Defense website.

Aside from performing given tasks, the troops will practice long-distance march and live ammunition firing tactics. The drill also plans to transport troops to a location 3,000 km away by railway, ocean and air.

Shoigu said the military exercise did not target any other country.

President Vladimir Putin issued the drill order on Friday, requesting Russia's Eastern Military Area Command be in full combat readiness by early Saturday morning and military force be transported to appointed exercise area.

The units from the Central Military Area Command, the Pacific Ocean Fleet, Air Force remote units and military transport aviation units also joined the drill.

The information bureau of Russia's Defense Ministry said the military exercise would last for a week.

President Putin began surprise checks for armed forces in February to test combat readiness level.

On his way back from a visit abroad on March 28, Putin decided to launch a "non-routine" military exercise in the Black Sea area.

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