Russian President Vladimir Putin inspects military exercises near Sakhalin Island in the Pacific Ocean, on Tuesday, July 16.
Russian tanks move across Sakhalin Island on July 16.
Russian Army helicopters fire flares over Sakhalin Island on July 16.
Putin, center, and Russian military personnel observe exercises on July 16.
Russian ships take part in the exercises on July 16.
(CNN) — Russia is in the midst of its biggest war games since Soviet times, with 160,000 troops, 130 planes, 70 ships and thousands of tanks and armored vehicles participating in the country’s Far East, according to media reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the drills last Friday and they began that night, according to reports from the RIA Novosti news agency. Putin flew to Sakhalin island off the eastern coast to oversee the games on Tuesday, Russia’s presidential press service reported.
“The main purpose of the activities is to check the readiness of the military units to perform assigned tasks and evaluate of the level of personnel’s training and technical preparation as well as the level of equipment of units with arms and military equipment,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement reported by Russian Television.
Russian President Vladimir Putin submerges on board Sea Explorer 5 bathyscaphe near the isle of Gogland in the Gulf of Finland on July 15, 2013. Browse through more photos of Putin trying his hand at different activities.
Russian President Vladimir Putin studies a crane during an experiment called “Flight of hope” in which he piloted a hang glider, aiming to lead the birds into flight. It’s part of a project to save the rare species of crane.
Russian President Vladimir Putin pictured during his vacation in Siberia in 2009. For years, Russia’s leader has cultivated a populist image in the Russian media.
Putin rides a Harley-Davidson to an international biker convention in southern Ukraine in July 2010.
Famed for his love of martial arts, Putin throws a competitor in a judo session at an athletics school while on a trip to St Petersburg in December 2009.
A shirtless Putin fishing in the headwaters of the Yenisei River in the Republic of Tuva in August 2007.
Assisted by a Russian scientist, Putin fixes a satellite transmitter to a tiger during his visit to the Ussuriysky forest reserve of the Russian Academy of Sciences in the Far East on August 31, 2008.
A wetsuit-clad Putin embarks on a dive to an underwater archaeological site at Phanagoria on the Taman Peninsula last year.
Taking part in a training session for young ice hockey players before the “Golden Puck” youth tournament final in Moscow in 2011.
Taken in 2007, this image shows Putin carrying a hunting rifle in the Republic of Tuva.
The Russian president aims at a whale with an arbalest (crossbow) to take a piece of its skin for analysis on Olga Bay.
Pictured in the cockpit of a Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber jet at a military airport on August 16, 2005, before his supersonic flight.
Swimming butterfly stroke during his vacation outside the town of Kyzyl in Southern Siberia in August 2009.
In pictures: Cult of Putin
“The Sakhalin part of the maneuvers was intended to simulate a response to a hypothetical attack by Japanese and U.S. forces,” Konstantin Sivkov, who is retired from the Russian military’s General Staff, told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, according to a report from the BBC.
But Russia’s deputy defense minister, Anatoly Antonov, said the games were designed to “enhance the army’s combat readiness” and were not directed against any specific nations, the BBC reported.
Some of the units involved in the exercises moved more than 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) from their bases to participate, according to the Russian media reports.
The current drills, which are expected to last through the week, are the latest in a series of snap exercises conducted by the Russian military this year, Russian Television reported. Similar drills have been conducted in the country’s west, south and central military districts, the report said.