Russia begins large-scale military drills in Crimea
Drills involving three large units of Russia's Airborne Forces, Aerospace Forces and the Black Sea Fleet began in Crimea's Opuk firing range on Monday, March 20, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
"For the first time in the Russian army's history the Airborne Forces' three large units were simultaneously alerted as part of the drills and partly redeployed to Crimea with weapons and equipment," said Airborne Force Commander Colonel-General Andrei Serdyukov, who is in charge of the maneuvers, TASS reported.
More than 2,500 paratroopers and some 600 pieces of equipment are involved in the drills.
Servicemen from Novorossiysk, Kamyshinsk and Ulan Ude units, as well as the fourth army of the Aerospace Forces and Air Defense Forces of the Southern military district are taking part in the exercises.
NATO ships arrive in Odesa for joint drills with Ukrainian sailors until April 20During the drills, the troops will train to conduct operations "as part of a group of rapid reaction forces" against terrorists and regular forces of a simulated enemy, Serdyukov said.
The exercises are held in the new format in Crimea due to the "increased terrorist threat and also a broad range of use of the Airborne Forces as rapid reaction forces to solve crises in various regions of the world," he said.
The servicemen will be tasked to take under control crucial facilities, practice amphibious landing and airdrops, and also firing during the offensive and defensive operations.