Russia mobilises 20,000 troops; showcase naval strength

Russia mobilised 20,000 troops in one of the biggest military show.

Updated: Jul 04, 2010, 18:14 PM IST

Moscow: In one of the biggest show of
military might since the collapse of USSR, Russia mobilised
20,000 troops and state-of-the-art weapons in a drill, with
President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday asserting that his country is
a "great" naval power capable of defending its interests.

Medvedev watched the impressive drills of the Russian
Navy as part of the strategic Vostok-2010 (Orient-2010)
wargames from the nuclear-powered "Pyotr Veliky" cruiser
sailing in the sea of Okhotsk.

"Russia was and remains a great naval power capable
of accomplishing tasks in the problem regions and is ready to
defend its interests," Medvedev said praising the servicemen
for "displaying high professionalism."

Over 20,000 men and 70 combat aircraft, 1,000 military
hardware and 30 warships, including battleships of Black,
Baltic, Pacific and Northern fleets, are taking part in
Vostok-2010, the biggest ever war games in the Far East on the
`Chinese front` since the Soviet collapse in 1991.

As the supreme commander of the armed forces
Medvedev sailed in to the Sea of Okhotsk on board the `Pyotr
Veliky` (Peter- the- Great) cruiser, famous as `killer of
aircraft carriers`, Russian media reported.

The president watched how two Kamov Ka-27
helicopters dropped into sea sonar buoys to search in the
operation to search and destroy "enemy" submarines.

The wargames began on June 29 and are to conclude on
July 28 and involve the Russian military might stationed in
the Eurasian part of the country from Ural Mountains, Siberia
and Far Eastern military areas.

In the course of the war games Russia for the first
time deployed its frontline Sukhoi Su-24M and Su-34 combat
jets from the central parts to the far eastern parts 8,000
kms away.

"For the first time ever, we have tested in practice
the capability for fighter jets to fly from aerodromes in the
European part of Russia to eastern airfields in the Far
Eastern district without landing, with in-flight refuelling
and the delivery of strikes according to assignments received
during the flight," Chief of General Staff, Army General
Nikolai Makarov said.

During the six hour non-stop flight the fighter
aircraft crew could accumulate experience in mid-air
refuelling and going into action thousands of kilometres away
from home base, Defence Ministry`s Zvezda (Star) TV channel
reported.

One of the novelties of the present wargames was
airlifting of mechanised infantry from Urals area, without
their heavy weapons, which were provided to them on arrival in
the `battle zone` from the reserve depots close to the borders
with China.

"It took only six hours to airlift the mechanised
infantry regiment several thousand kilometres away, with only
light arms.

The loading of their heavy equipment and transporting
would have taken up to 48 hours, which is impermissible in
case of urgency," Zvezda TV said.

It also showed air defence drills by S-300 missiles
and closer range Buk-M air defence system as well as building
of bridges by highly mobile Railway Troops over Siberian
rivers.

Although ahead of the war games Chief of Russian
General Staff, Army General Nikolai Makarov had underscored
that the drill is not directed against any country, but
experts view them as Moscow`s biggest ever exercise to cope
with military challenge from China.

"This exercise is not directed against any specific
country or military-political bloc. It has a purely defensive
nature in ensuring our state`s security and national interests
in the Far East," he said.

According to him the Armed Forces will practice the
deployment of additional troops in Siberia and the Far East to
reinforce the existing military contingent in the region in
case of a military conflict.

Incidentally, the Chinese military observers were
not invited to all the stages and events of the war games
including naval drills.

"They have arrived in Siberia on Saturday and will
be present only during land drills in Siberia," RIA Novosti
reported quoting Defence Ministry.

"The Chinese delegation will attend a key phase of
the Vostok-2010 drills at the Tsugol training grounds, and
will be presented with a general overview of the Vostok-2010
exercises and observe a river crossing practice performed by
Russian troops.

PTI