MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the order to bring the country’s Northern Fleet to full alert in a snap combat readiness exercise Monday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.
“The main task of the [combat readiness drill] is to assess the armed forces from the Northern Fleet’s capabilities in fulfilling tasks in providing military security of the Russian Federation in the Arctic region,” Gen. Shoigu said.
The Northern Fleet was brought to alert at 8:00 a.m. Moscow time (05:00 GMT) and includes 38,000 military personnel, 3,360 pieces of equipment, 41 ships, 15 submarines, and 110 airplanes and helicopters, Shoigu added.
“New challenges and threats of military security demand the further heightening of military capabilities of the Armed Forces and special attention will be paid to the state of the newly formed strategic merging [of forces] in the North,” Gen. Shoigu said.
The exercises will be held on land, in sea and air and will run for five days beginning March 16, the general said.
Last week, Norway began its largest military drills in decades, in its northern Finnmark region near the Russian border. The exercises comprise 5,000 military personnel and will be held until March 18.