Russia to hold major navy drills involving all its fleets

One of the three latest submarines delivered to the Russian fleet in January. [Twitter account of Russia's defense ministry]

Russia announced on Thursday (20 January) its navy would stage a sweeping set of exercises involving all its fleets this month and next from the Pacific to the Atlantic, the latest show of strength in a surge of military activity during a standoff with the West.

The drills will take place in the seas directly adjacent to Russia and also feature manoeuvres in the Mediterranean, the North Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, the northeast Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific, it said.

They will draw on 140 warships and support vessels, 60 planes, 1,000 units of military hardware and around 10,000 servicemen, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

Russian military moves are being closely scrutinised as a troop build-up near Ukraine and a volley of hawkish rhetoric have rattled the West and sparked fears of a looming war. Moscow vehemently denies any plan to invade Ukraine.

In a video posted on Facebook, the ministry showed its Pacific Fleet’s newest diesel-electric submarine test-firing a Kalibr cruise missile at a land-based target from an underwater position in the Sea of Japan.

The missile struck a coastal target in Russia’s far eastern Khabarovsk region from a range of more than 1,000 km (620 miles), it said.

Separately, China, Russia and Iran are set to hold joint naval drills on Friday, a public relations official from Iran’s armed forces told the semi-official ISNA news agency.

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