After sending its air force on an air raid drill near its border with North Korea, Russia is now gearing up its paratroopers—some of the most elite forces in its military’s ranks—for a mass exercise of their own, in the far-east region as well.
Russia’s airborne troops (VDV) will practice drops in the Primorye region “during the middle of October 2017” the Ministry of Defense announced on Friday in a statement on its website. The statement referred to the drills as “large-scale tactical exercises” but gave no exact number of the troops that would be involved.
The drill will consist of airdrops of personnel and combat equipment from Ilyushin Il-76 multi-purpose airlifters. Once on the ground troops will make use of handheld drones, radio-electronic jammers and equipment.
The troops will land in Primorye region where they will also carry out “multi-kilometer marches.” The region has Russia’s only stretch of land border with North Korea, though the Kremlin has previously denied that mass deployment of troops in its vicinity is linked to the ongoing tension on the Korean peninsula.
The North Korean regime has demonstrated progress in becoming a fully fledged nuclear power after a handful of missile tests this summer revealed its striking range is growing, while a nuclear detonation earlier in the month registered a tenfold increase compared to the last test.
Russia formally opposes North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, however Russian President Vladimir Putin has hinted that Moscow thinks the regime at present is broadly unrelenting in its pursuit. Russia opposes further sanctions on North Korea, but has ruled out a military solution to the conflict.
Earlier this week Russian Senator Franz Klintsevich said that Moscow will view a U.S. declaration of war against North Korea as a threat to Russia, due to the geographical closeness. Russia’s top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, has effectively ruled out the possibility of either the U.S. or North Korea striking the other first, noting that Pyongyang’s threats are rhetoric, while the U.S. will not take the risk of attacking a nuclear armed state.
U.S. bomber jets recently arrived in South Korea in one of several reinforcement measures for the North’s neighbor, which has reportedly pushed North Korea to pad out its own air force in the east.