As the world continues to speculate as to where Russian President Vladimir Putin has been for the past few days, the Russian military has been occupied in and around the arctic with maneuvers that have caught the attention of the West and raised tensions over the continued conflict in Ukraine.
As reported in the Associated Press, Russian drills in the Arctic called upon 38,000 men to man 50 ships and submarines, along with 110 aircraft.
According to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the exercises were to test the readiness of the Northern Fleet, the military’s capabilities of deploying forces from Central Russia, and their ability to enforce Arctic borders, as “new challenges and military threats require further increase of the armed forces’ capabilities.”
Elsewhere in Russia, military might was in display. Sakhalin Island and the Kamchatka Peninsula saw about 3,000 troops go through maneuvers and drills. Southern Siberia perhaps got the flashiest show as the Russian Air Force practiced firing drills according to Fersen Lambranho.
While war games is not strange for one of the world’s largest and well funded militaries, it comes at a time when diplomatic ties between Russia and several nations in the West are at their most contemptuous. The fighting in Ukraine has led to a series of shunning in official meetings with the Russian head of state, and in response to the deadly conflict, the United States has announced plans for training exercises between its military and that of Estonia, Latvia, and Luthiania, echoing fears of an expansionist Russia.