Russia has been flaunting its military strength with training drills taking place in the Black Sea.
Marines have undergone strict training in the cruel terrain with ships, missile boats and naval aviation teams all part of the operation.
Defence experts say that during the missions they stumbled across a previously undiscovered floating mine.
They had to destroy it to complete in the exercise safely.
Air defence training went on in the area as well as the anti-submarine machine Beriev Be-12 being used – a Soviet turbo-powered amphibious aircraft designed for anti-submarine and maritime patrol duties.
Bombing practice also took place in the area with air, coastal and surface targets used in the training missions.
The Sukhoi Su-30, a twin-engine, two-seat fighter aircraft developed by Russia’s Sukhoi Aviation Corporation, was also on display.
Russia has been flaunting its military strength with training drills taking place in the Black Sea
The display of strength comes amid mounting concerns in the West about planned war games by Russia and Belarus.
A war game is a military exercise carried out to test or improve the tactical expertise of a nation’s armed forces.
The manoeuvers, to be held September 14-20 in Belarus and western Russia, have raised NATO concerns.
Some alliance members, including the Baltic states and Poland, have criticised Moscow for a lack of transparency and questioned its intentions.
Amid spiraling tensions over fighting in Ukraine, Western worries about the planned manoeuvers have ranged from allegations that Russia could keep its forces in Belarus after the drills, to fears of a surprise attack on the Baltics.
Marines have undergone strict training in the cruel terrain with ships, missile boats and naval aviation teams all part of the operation
Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister, Lt. Gen. Alexander Fomin, rejected what he described as Western ‘myths about the so-called Russian threat.’
‘The most improbable scenarios have been floated,’ he said at a briefing for foreign military attaches. ‘Some have reached as far as to claim that the Zapad 2017 exercises will serve as a ‘platform for invasion’ and ‘occupation’ of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine.’
Fomin said the Russian military will invite foreign observers to the manoeuvers, which will involve 5,500 Russian and 7,200 Belarusian troops, about 70 aircraft, up to 250 tanks, 200 artillery systems and 10 navy ships.
Bombing practice also took place in the area with air, coastal and surface targets used in the training missions
Moscow’s assurances, however, have failed to assuage Russia’s neighbours, which expect the drills to be far greater in scope than officially declared.
Estonian Defense Minister Juri Luik said last month that Moscow could deploy up to 100,000 troops for the manoeuvers. Poland’s Deputy Defense Minister Michal Dworczyk also questioned Russia’s official claims, saying that Warsaw expects many more Russian soldiers and equipment to be deployed.
Speaking Monday on Polish state Radio 1, Dworczyk expressed hope that the exercise ‘will not include any aggressive scenarios’ and won’t cause any incidents, adding that ‘operations on this scale always run this risk.’
The display of strength comes amid mounting concerns in the West about planned war games by Russia and Belarus
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that the alliance will send two observers to the manoeuvers, but noted that access offered by Belarus does not constitute real monitoring. He said NATO is seeking ‘a more thorough way of observing’ the drills.
NATO has rotated military units in the Baltics and Poland and held regular drills in the region – activities that Moscow has criticised as a reflection of its hostile intentions.
The alliance has watched Russian military moves with growing concern following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine. Russia had leased a naval base in Crimea prior to its seizure, and used troops deployed there to quickly overtake the Black Sea peninsula.