Russian President Vladimir Putin will on Friday oversee massive military exercises as Russia stages a series of drills with China and other allies amid fresh tensions with the West.
The largest of these games, Caucasus-2020, kicked off in southern Russia this week and includes land and naval exercises involving a total of 80,000 people, including more than 12,000 troops. China, Iran and Myanmar are taking part along with Armenia and Belarus. According to the defense ministry, up to 250 tanks and around 450 infantry combat vehicles and armored personnel carriers are taking part in the drills along with artillery systems and rocket launchers.
Putin has made reviving the army one of the top priorities of his 20-year rule. After years of post-Soviet neglect, the armed forces received new aircraft, tanks and missiles, opened new bases in the Arctic and resumed Cold War-style strategic bomber patrols.
Moscow has staged frequent large-scale military exercises in the Caucasus, the Baltic and the Arctic in recent years. In 2018, Russia held what it has called its largest-ever military drills, with 300,000 Russian troops joining Chinese soldiers in a show of force condemned by NATO.
Russia's drills this autumn are also viewed as a show of support for Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko, who has faced unprecedented protests against his disputed reelection last month.
Running parallel to the Caucasus-2020 games, the joint Russian-Belarusian drills dubbed Slavic Brotherhood began in mid-September and involve more than 900 Russian troops. The drills were launched near Belarus' southwestern city of Brest on the Polish border. As part of the games, two Russian supersonic heavy strategic Tu-160 bombers flew over Belarus' border with the European Union this week.
Lukashenko has accused Poland and the Baltic states of coordinating with the opposition and has claimed Western countries see Belarus as a "springboard" to attack Russia. "Putin and I are of the same opinion: We are being hunted here so that they can go for Russia afterward," Lukashenko said in August. Next month Belarus will also host drills by the six member states of a Russia-led security bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
Several countries have pulled out of military exercises with Russia this year, with New Delhi citing the coronavirus pandemic but observers pointing to its frayed ties with China. Moscow's ally Serbia dropped out of drills in Belarus after what Belgrade called "great and undeserved pressure" from the EU.
The Kremlin's relationship with Europe has worsened since Russia annexed Crimea, and tensions are exacerbated by allegations of election meddling and spying. The poisoning of leading Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny recently spurred sharp condemnations from European leaders who have said they could respond with further sanctions on Moscow.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.