Russia has mobilized thousands of troops, hundreds of aircraft, and dozens of warships in an exercise to test the country’s readiness. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the troops were put on alert on Feb. 8 in the country’s southern military district, which includes Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula, the North Caucasus, and area near the border with Ukraine in the country’s southwestern region, according to The Associated Press. The exercise includes 8,500 troops, 900 ground weapons, 200 aircraft, and 50 ships, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. It will entail a redeployment of air force units to advance air bases, bombing runs, and a maneuvers to test the ground force’s mobility. The goal is to test the military’s ability to respond to “extremist threats” and other challenges, the AP reported.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.