Moscow: Russia announced Wednesday that its strategic missile forces (RVSN) will hold large-scale drills in southern Siberia this month.
The announcement came a day before the two-day NATO summit kicks off in Wales, where leaders will discuss pressing issues concerning the situation in eastern Europe, the Middle East and north Africa.
"More than 4,000 military personnel and about 400 pieces of hardware will take part in the drills to be held in the Altai region," Xinhua quoted RVSN spokesman Dmitry Andreyev as saying.
The servicemen will carry out combat missions under electronic countermeasures, he said, adding the exercises will for the first time involve aircraft, including MiG-31 interceptors and SU-24MR reconnaissance jets.
Earlier Wednesday, the Russian armed forces held a number of drills across the country, including joint anti-aircraft defence exercises with Indian forces in southern Astrakhan region and tactical maneuvers with Belarussian troops near the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, the defence ministry`s press service said.
The Kremlin Wednesday said Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko discussed "steps" towards a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, denying any "permanent" ceasefire agreement as Kiev announced earlier in the day.