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    Large-scale military drills start in southern Russia

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    Large-scale military drills start on Monday in 10 southern subjects of the Russian Federation, a spokesman for the North Caucasus military district said.

    ROSTOV-ON-DON, June 29 (RIA Novosti) - Large-scale military drills start on Monday in 10 southern subjects of the Russian Federation, a spokesman for the North Caucasus military district said.

    The exercises, dubbed Caucasus-2009, comprise a series of operational drills with North Caucasus District troops, including South Ossetian and Abkhazian brigades, as well as units of the Black Sea Fleet, the Caspian Flotilla, the Air Force and the Airborne Troops.

    "During the exercise, the troops will practice a wide range of military measures aimed at ensuring security for Russian citizens, main transport and energy routes, strategically important infrastructure, and protecting Russia's economic interests in the southwest region," Andrei Bobrun said.

    According to the Defense Ministry, a total of 8,500 troops, about 200 tanks, 450 armored vehicles, and up to 250 artillery pieces will take part in the exercises.

    The exercise is led by Army Gen. Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. The drills will end on June 6.

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