Russia conducts largest military maneuvers in decades

More than 8,000 personnel have taken part in the life-like “Caucasus 2009” military drills, which took place in Russia’s south to test troop readiness in combating terrorism and maintaining regional security.

“How can one get tired of defending the motherland? That’s my duty,” says twenty-five year old soldier Maxim Tretyakov, who is no stranger to the maneuvers.

Thousands of troops were backed by hundreds of tanks rumbling through the North Caucasus. The military says the location wasn’t picked at random. The area has all sorts of terrain, ranging from seashore and plains to high mountains, but the main reason for holding the exercise in this particular part of the country is due to the potential threat of terrorism.

The exercises are based on a scenario of international terrorists trying to break through the Russian border. Their aim is to set up bases in the North Caucasus and destabilize the region. Therefore, the troops have to conduct a counter-terrorist operation to neutralize them and guarantee security in Russia’s South.

It took the troops some two hours to destroy the militant’s plans. Shortly after they were spotted, the soldiers went on the attack and ultimately defeated the terrorists. Senior officers, watching from the command post, are satisfied with the result.

“The exercises have proved the artillery and aviation were very well-organized and they are capable of fulfilling their tasks,” the drills’ General-Colonel Aleksandr Larchenko complemented.

Russian soldiers deployed in South Ossetia and Abkhazia also took part in the maneuvers.

Georgia has expressed concern, calling the exercises a “pure provocation”.

“It’s just nonsense, these exercises were scheduled last year and the only goal was to test the military and find out their weak points,” said Larchenko, dismissing accusations.

It will take a little while for the military to estimate the effectiveness of the maneuvers and the readiness of the troops to react quickly.

During a week-long military drill in the North Caucasus, alongside the region’s unit and Air Force, there were also the Black Sea and Caspian Fleets involved in what are said to be the largest naval exercises since the Soviet Union’s collapse. The military says the “Caucasus 2009” training is going to play a positive role in stabilizing the situation in the area.