Deputy Defense Minister denies military muscle flexing in Far East drill

Massive training exercises in the Russian Far East are not an attempt to flex military muscle but simply to work on better combat readiness, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Monday

Massive training exercises in the Russian Far East are not an attempt to flex military muscle but simply to work on better combat readiness, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Monday.

"Everything that is being done by the Russian Armed Forces, including the verification of troops' preparedness, is not an attempt to flex military muscle. It is an element of daily and thorough work on raising the level of combat readiness of the Russian Armed Forces," he told foreign military attaches stationed in Moscow.

While explaining the need for the exercises in the Russian Far East, the deputy defense minister said, "The Russian Armed Forces must be capable of combat and prepared to respond to any threat, from terrorist attacks to attempts on the state sovereignty of Russia."

"Russia has been extremely open about" the surprise inspection of combat readiness of the Eastern Military District, the deputy minister said.

Russia notified its Far Eastern neighbors several hours before the inspection began, he said. "We provided additional information to our friends in the People's Republic of China, given that we have a special agreement with China regarding military activity in the border zones," Antonov said.

Notices were also issued for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), "although the war game zone is located outside of the area of jurisdiction of this organization," he noted.

"Detailed information about the drill was given to the media, as well," he said. "Several television crews are working on the training ranges, and all related reports are posted promptly on the Defense Ministry website."

Antonov asked the foreign military attaches to make impartial reports to their defense ministers.

He reaffirmed the readiness of the Russian Defense Ministry's Main Department on International Military Cooperation to supply all required information for the appropriate notification of his foreign colleagues.

The exercises "are being held in strict compliance with Russian commitments with other states and are not harmful their interests," Antonov concluded.

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