More than 45,000 Russian troops as well as war planes and submarines started military exercises across much of the country on Monday in one of the Kremlin’s biggest shows of force since its ties with the West plunged to Cold War-lows.
President Vladimir Putin called the Navy’s Northern Fleet to full combat readiness in exercises in Russia’s Arctic North apparently aimed at dwarfing military drills in neighboring Norway, a NATO member.
“New challenges and threats to military security require the armed forces to further boost their military capabilities. Special attention must be paid to newly created strategic formations in the north,” Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said, quoted by RIA news agency.
Shoigu said the order came from Putin, who has promised to spend more than 21 trillion rubles ($340 billion) by the end of the decade to overhaul Russia’s fighting forces.
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