The quality and intensity of combat training in the Russian Armed Forces has received a significant boost this year through a series of regular exercises and large-scale snap-alert drills, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.
The Russian military has held six surprise inspections of combat readiness and most of the 750 planned army-level exercises since the beginning of this year.
Each of Russia’s four military districts will have its own training range capable of hosting large-scale exercises involving all branches of the armed forces, a senior defense official said Saturday.
First Deputy Defense Minister, Gen. Arkady Bakhin, said in an interview that the first such training range, dubbed Mulino, is being constructed in the Nizhny Novgorod region for the Western Military District.
According to Bakhin, construction of the Mulino training range is expected to be completed in summer next year.
“A contract for the construction of the second range, based on the Ashuluk training facility in the Southern Military District, has been signed,” Bakhin said.
Its size and advanced equipment will allow the Defense Ministry to train and inspect combat capabilities of large military units, including entire armies, the official said.
The expansion of the Ashuluk facility in the Astrakhan region is expected to be completed in 2017, he added.
The third training range will be built near the town of Tsugol in Siberia for the Eastern Military District, which will hold next year major joint exercises with China and, separately, Mongolia, a spokesman for Russia’s Eastern Military District said Saturday.
Separately, Russian mechanized infantry will train together with Chinese troops in China as part of the “Peace Mission” anti-terrorist exercise. The “Peace Missions” are held since 2005.
Infantry troops from the republic of Buryatia in Russian Siberia will also hold the Selenga exercise with the Mongolian army, organized annually since 2008.
Russia and China are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a Eurasian mutual security bloc that also includes Mongolia as an observer.
The Russian army held about 3,000 drills in 2013, including some 400 involving multiple army branches, Bakhin said.
This year’s biggest drill, West-2013, took place in the Russian western exclave of Kaliningrad and the neighboring Belarus, Russia’s major European ally.
Bakhin announced Saturday that the Russian military would hold its biggest drill of 2014 in the country’s east.
Russia has 29 international military exercises lined up for next year and announced last week plans to hold joint drills with China and Mongolia.