The Kremlin has announced plans to dramatically increase the number of summer military exercises staged throughout Russia, Damien Sharkov reports for Newsweek citing the Russian Ministry of Defence.
Russia’s Airborne Troops alone are scheduled to conduct more than 1,000 exercises in the summer months. This represents a 20% increase in operations over summer 2014.
Russian paratroopers will also be deployed to the Arctic for exercises over the summer, according to the deputy head commander of the airborne division.
The Arctic paratrooper exercises may be one manifestation of Moscow’s new military doctrine which denotes the far north as one of three critical geopolitical areas for the Kremlin. Moscow has undertaken a construction blitz across the Arctic in order to ensure that it remains the unchallenged military power in the region. Moscow is constructing 10 Arctic search-and-rescue stations, 16 deepwater ports, 13 airfields, and 10 air-defence radar posts across its Arctic coast.
The uptick in paratrooper exercises is part of a general increase in overall Russian military exercises throughout the country. In the last week of May the Kremlin launched a massive snap military drill that involved 12,000 troops, planes, and anti-aircraft batteries.
Over the next four months, the Kremlin also plans on launching 40 large-scale military exercises in Russia’s eastern military district alone. These exercises will include tactical, special, and flight operations, Russian Colonel Aleksandr Gordeyev told the Kremlin-owned media outlet Tass.
This increase in military operations is likely intended to ready the Russian armed forces for any conflict while also functioning as a deterrent against outside aggression.
“Well, it’s not just simply messages — actually preparation for a possible confrontation. And, also it is a message that we’re there and ready to take on any and [every] possible enemy,” Pavel Felgenhauer, a defence analyst and Novaya Gazeta columnist, told Voice of America news.
Russia may also be flexing its muscle in order to unsettle its regional opponents — something Moscow has done through repeated air and naval incursions aimed at neighbouring countries since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in early 2014.
Beyond the scheduled military exercises, Russia has amassed large numbers of troops, tanks, and pieces of artillery along the Ukrainian border.
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