Russia holds snap combat readiness inspection of far east troops

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MOSCOW, Jan 14 (Reuters) – Russia on Friday announced a snap combat readiness inspection of its troops in its far east and said they would practice deploying to far-away military sites in Russia for exercises.

Russian military manoeuvres are being closely scrutinised due to a troop buildup near Ukraine that has prompted fears in Kyiv and the West that Moscow may be planning to invade. Russia denies any such plan.

Defence Ministry footage released by RIA news agency showed numerous armoured vehicles and other military hardware being loaded onto trains in the Eastern Military District.

“The exercises will make it possible to assess the readiness of the troops… to carry out missions as required after regrouping at far distances across Russian territory,” the ministry was quoted as saying.

Open-source intelligence analysts have for weeks been studying social media footage of Russian military hardware being transported, including by train.

Russia says it is up to Moscow alone where it moves its forces around on its territory and that they pose no external threat.

Rob Lee, a military analyst and a fellow at the U.S.-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, said the drills would test the ability of units to complete missions after conducting long-distance travel.

“This is likely cover for the units being moved towards Ukraine,” he tweeted.

Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Toby Chopra

Photo – Russian military vehicles take part in the Kavkaz-2020 (The Caucasus 2020) military exercises in Prudboy range in Volgograd region, Russia, 24 September 2020. EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

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