MOSCOW: Russia announced new military exercises involving bombers and fighter jets on Monday in a show of strength near the border with Ukraine.
An air force spokesman was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying more than 100 planes and helicopters would take part in the manoeuvres from Monday until Friday in its central and western districts. The spokesman, Igor Klimov, said the exercises were the first in a series to improve coordination in the military and made no mention of Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels are fighting Ukrainian government forces.
The move is likely to alarm Western powers which have accused Russia of beefing up the number of troops along its border with Ukraine and arming the rebels in eastern Ukraine. Moscow denies supplying the rebels with weapons.
Klimov said aircraft such as Su-27 and MiG-31 fighter jets, Russia’s newest frontline bomber Su-34, and Mi-8, Mi-24 and Mi-28N helicopters would be used in the exercises and the aircraft would conduct missile practice. The aircraft will be testing “aircraft weapons on land and air targets on new ranges, and will be conducting real and electronic launches of anti-aircraft missiles in Ashuluk (Astrakhan region in southern Russia) which is specifically designed to aide the coordination between aviation and anti-missile defence”, he was quoted as saying.
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