The ongoing surprise check in the Russian Armed Forces is completely transparent and limited to the territory of Russia, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Thursday.
"The ongoing and previous surprise checks confirmed that they are absolutely necessary and effectively improve combat readiness of the Armed Forces. Importantly, checks have become part of the Armed Forces routine. They will continue in the future," Antonov said.
He emphasized that the checks were held exclusively on the national territory.
"This is neither clatter of tracks, nor saber rattling nor muscle flexing. We are not acting like certain countries which are boldly demonstrating their strength near the Russian borders by moving their soldiers, armaments and hardware to foreign territories," the deputy minister said.
"Furthermore, they hold marches of Boy Scouts, or, as we call them, pioneers wearing shorts with straps and brightly colored flags," Antonov said.
As soon as Defense Minister Gen. of the Army Sergei Shoigu was ordered to start the surprise check by the Supreme Commander in Chief, a meeting of the top military command was convened and the press was invited.
The minister gave a detailed account of the means, forces and tasks the Armed Forces would carry out during the surprise check and gave instructions to military commanders in the presence of the media.
Journalists are supplied daily with information about the progress of the surprise checks, Antonov said.
The number of servicemen and military hardware involved in the checks does not exceed the limits beyond which Russia is compelled to notify European countries and the OSCE but Russia still posted the notice, the deputy minister said.
"We have done that before although we have no international commitments to this effect," he stated.
"Nevertheless, we have made a goodwill gesture and informed all European countries via the OSCE about the beginning of the surprise check and the size of forces it is involving. We will continue to do so," Antonov assured reporters.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that surprise exercises will continue in the Russian Armed Forces. "I can only confirm that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, as commander-in-chief, has said more than once that the practice of both exercises and surprise inspections will continue. These are routine events aimed at further perfecting the Armed Forces of Russia, and this practice has always justified itself," he added.
The live-fire exercises in South Ossetia have nothing to do with the alliance and integration treaty signed between Russia and South Ossetia on March 18, Peskov said.
"These drills cannot stem from the treaty, which was signed yesterday. It is a framework treaty. More specific documents will subsequently be drafted and signed on its basis," he said.
Russian motor riflemen and airborne troops are holding a large-scale exercise on Wednesday, involving bomber aircraft and helicopters, as part of snap combat-readiness checks in the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet
The units of the Pskov-based air assault division have been put on full alert as part of a strategic command post exercise conducted among the Russian Armed Forces, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday
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