After a week long absence of the Russian President Vladimir Putin pumping the rumor mill into over drive on his where abouts he emerges with a new Arctic military exercise with 40,000 troops and over two dozen ships and 110 aircraft in preparation for “the worst case scenario” which has this publication wondering if indeed World War III is just around the corner.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, who is overseeing an expensive modernisation of the armed forces, said Russia faced new threats to its security which obliged it to boost its military strength and capabilities. (See video Below)
In a statement carried by Russian news agencies, he said that more than 50 surface ships and submarines and 110 aircraft will be used in the snap exercises.
He said Mr Putin has ordered the manoeuvres in order to check the readiness of Russia’s Northern Fleet.
Mr Shoigu said that “the new challenges and threats require further increase of the armed forces’ capabilities”.
Moscow has boosted its ambitions in the resource-rich Arctic region, where it shares a border with NATO member Norway.
The exercise comes amid Russia-West tensions over Ukraine. The United States is planning to conduct joint exercises with forces from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania later this month.
The West and Kiev accuse Russia of supplying arms and soldiers to support pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine who are fighting government troops.
NATO made new allegations last week that Russia was arming the separatists in east Ukraine, where more than 6,000 people have been killed in nearly a year of fighting.