President Putin Attends Black Sea Military Drills

ANAPA, March 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in the country’s southern Black Sea region on Friday to attend large-scale military exercises aimed at testing the combat readiness of units in the area, which will host the Winter Olympic Games next year.

Putin ordered the snap drills on Thursday, as concerns persist over the combat readiness of the armed forces.

The unscheduled exercise is the second in the space of two months and follows a major shake-up at the top of a military establishment tarnished by persistent evidence of rampant corruption.

The Black Sea exercise involves up to 7,000 military personnel, including rapid deployment, airborne and special task forces, more than 30 warships, about 250 armored vehicles, up to 20 pieces of artillery and 20 aircraft.

According to international law, exercises of this size do not have to be announced to other countries prior to their beginning.

Similar exercises were performed in February in central Russia. They involved the redeployment of an airborne regiment stationed in the central Ivanovo Region by 20 military transport helicopters to the Shagol airfield in the Urals.

Defense officials said 7,000 military personnel and hundreds of items of military hardware took part in the February drills, which comprised the first non-routine check of its type in Russia in two decades.

Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov said at the time that the drills had exposed numerous shortcomings in preparedness among the armed forces.


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