MOSCOW, July 13 (RIA Novosti) Russia’s defense minister on Saturday said that up to 160,000 servicemen are involved in the large-scale exercises in the Eastern Military District, double the number initially reported.
“The total number of servicemen involved in the snap drills was up to 81,000 last night, the figure this morning was up to 160,000 servicemen,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.
The exercises also involve about 1,000 tanks and armored vehicles, 130 aircraft and 70 warships from the Pacific Fleet, Shoigu confirmed. These latter figures remain unchanged.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the snap drills Friday evening. It is the third surprise combat readiness check since January and follows a major shake-up at the top of a military establishment tarnished by persistent evidence of rampant corruption.
Russian servicemen in the Eastern Military District told Russian media they had anticipated they would face this kind of test as similar drills have already been carried out in the neighboring military districts.
The Eastern Military District is one of the four operational strategic commands of the Russian Armed Forces. The district was formed in 2010. It absorbed the territories of the former Far East Military District and part of the former Siberian Military District with headquarters at Khabarovsk.