It has been a while since Russia flexed its military "drill" muscles along the Ukraine border as a reminder of just who would win a pissing contest that involves military intervention. Which is probably why earlier today Russia announced new military exercises involving bombers and fighter jets in a show of strength near the border with Ukraine. As Reuters reported, "an air force spokesman was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying more than 100 planes and helicopters would take part in the manoeuvres from Monday until Friday in its central and western districts." Expect some very dramatic footage of Russian Su-34s and Mi-28Ns hitting YouTube later today.
The spokesman, Igor Klimov, said the exercises were the first in a series to improve coordination in the military and made no mention of Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels are fighting Ukrainian government forces.
Sure: all purely coincidental.
The move is likely to alarm Western powers which have accused Russia of beefing up the number of troops along its border with Ukraine and arming the rebels in eastern Ukraine. Moscow denies supplying the rebels with weapons.
Klimov said aircraft such as Su-27 and MiG-31 fighter jets, Russia's newest frontline bomber Su-34, and Mi-8, Mi-24 and Mi-28N helicopters would be used in the exercises and the aircraft would conduct missile practice.
The aircraft will be testing "aircraft weapons on land and air targets on new ranges, and will be conducting real and electronic launches of anti-aircraft missiles in Ashuluk (Astrakhan region in southern Russia) which is specifically designed to aide the coordination between aviation and anti-missile defence", he was quoted as saying.
Russia's Defence Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.
Cure more hashtags, redlines and maybe even sanctions, although not against Gazprom. Never against Gazprom. And then the logical countersactions as Putin clearly could care less about the west at this point.
And in other news, an official from Russia's FSB security service in the Rostov region, said that more than 400 Ukrainian military personnel requested refugee status from Russian border guards on Monday and Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has opened a corridor for the soldiers, according to RIA Novosti. "Overnight 438 Ukrainian military personnel turned to Russian border guards with a request for refugee [status],” the head of the FSB’s border control in the southern Russian region of Rostov, Vasily Malaeyev, said.
This follows the Sunday defection of 12 soldiers from the Ukrainian Armed Forces into Russia, who applied for asylum at Gukovo checkpoint in Russia’s Rostov Region, saying they had run out of food and ammunition.