Russia orders snap drill of 12,000 troops

Russia's armed forces have summoned nearly 12,000 troops for a snap drill to test their battle readiness in the country's central military district, Russian state news agency Itar-Tass reports.

The country's military has experienced a dramatic rise in snap military exercises in the wake of worsening relations with western neighbours and defence minister Sergey Shoigu said earlier this year that he did not plan to curb Russian military drills. Defence officials in the Baltic states have been particularly alarmed at Russia's snap drills, while analyst Martin Hurt from Estonia's International Centre for Defence and Security has said a snap drill turning into an assault on one or several Baltic states was a "realistic scenario".

The large scale, surprise drill will was announced yesterday and will test the battle readiness of some 12,000 air force and air defence troops, 250 jets and helicopters, as well as 689 units of military kit over the course of the coming days.

Part of the practice will include hitting ground targets with cruise missiles, however air defence units are also due to practice communication and combat against enemy aerial attacks. Units from Russia's Western district, which borders Europe and Southern district which borders Ukraine, will also take part in the drills held between Monday and Thursday.

The drill will also focus on aerial command practice in field combat conditions and developing all-round support of air units in new base areas. The drills are taking place in practice facilities in Western Siberia, central Russia.

According to deputy defence minister Anatoly Antonov the Russian military notified Western neighbours about the drill ahead of time, not because of any legal obligation to do so but "in the spirit of goodwill".

Antonov said Russia informed "all participant states" in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which was set up to improve communication between European states in the wake of the USSR's breakdown.

In an unrelated military drill, the Russian navy has boasted of successfully practicing a two ship assault on a submarine in the Baltic Sea. Russian naval captain Vladimir Matveev told Itar-Tass today that two Baltic Fleet corvettes and an anti-submarine warfare helicopter successfully destroyed a "designated enemy" submarine, in mock combat, with the Russian submarine Vyborg standing in as their adversary.

Russia's military drills presence in European seas and waters has skyrocketed since the start of the Ukraine crisis, often following times of diplomatic strain between the Kremlin and the West. Notably Russia announced nuclear submarine drills in the Arctic, a day after Nato launched a massive overhaul of its eastern facilities bordering Russia in February.

Both Poland's General Stanisław Koziej and ex-NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen have urged European states to invest more into heightening capacities to deal with possible Russian hybrid aggression.