MOSCOW — The Russian military on Monday launched sweeping military maneuvers in the Arctic and other areas, a show of force ordered by President Vladimir Putin amid spiraling tensions with the West over Ukraine.
The five-day Arctic drills involving 38,000 servicemen, more than 50 surface ships and submarines and 110 aircraft are intended to check the readiness of Russia's Northern Fleet and the military's ability to deploy additional forces from central Russia.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said "the new challenges and military threats require further increase of the armed forces' capabilities."
As part of the exercise the military will check its ability to beef up its forces on the Arctic Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land archipelagos and protect the state borders on land, in the air and at sea, Shoigu said in televised remarks.
Other tasks will include the airlifting of special operations forces to distant locations and efforts to counter the enemy's diversions.