The Russian military has proven its capability to quickly deploy large forces to far-flung areas during massive drills that have spread from the nation's western border to the Pacific, the defense minister said Wednesday.
The show of military might comes as Crimea marks the one-year anniversary of unification Russia.
Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Wednesday that about 76,000 troops, over 100 ships and more than 200 aircraft are taking part in Arctic maneuvers this week. At the same time, the military is conducting similar drills across Russia — from the westernmost Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad to the Pacific.
As part of the drills that began Monday, paratroopers were scrambled from their bases across Russia and airlifted to distant areas, marines practiced landing on a frigid Arctic coast and air force jets flew to the Kaliningrad region sandwiched between NATO members Poland and Lithuania.
Shoigu said at a meeting with the top brass that the military has successfully conducted a quick build-up of "combat capability in the Arctic, in the Baltics and in Crimea."
The war games, which were ordered by President Vladimir Putin, include the deployment of state-of-the art Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad and long-range nuclear-capable bombers to Crimea.