MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered massive exercises involving most military units in western Russia amid tensions in Ukraine.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a televised statement made at a meeting of top military brass in Moscow that the exercise is intended to "check the troops' readiness for action in crisis situations that threaten the nation's military security."
In later remarks carried by Russian news agencies, Shoigu said that the maneuvers involve some 150,000 troops, 880 tanks, 90 aircraft and 80 navy ships.
He said the exercise is unrelated to the developments in Ukraine, where tensions remain high following the toppling of Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych.
But Shoigu added that the exercise will be held near Russian borders, including the border with Ukraine. He also said, according to Russian news reports, that his ministry will take steps to strengthen security of the facilities of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, without elaborating.
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