Russia’s Defense Ministry is calling up military reserve units for training and drills. The Defense Ministry website indicates that exercises and tactical training will be conducted from now through October. The notice gives details on the units, where they will train, and the nature of their exercises.
Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, began calling up Ukraine’s reservists last week, and the Ukrainian Military has warned that Russia may be preparing for an invasion. CNN reported that on Tuesday alone, Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council reported 26 clashes in a 24 hour period. Six of those attacks were reported as coming from Russian territory, and NATO officials estimated that more than 20,000 Russian troops are now massed along the Ukrainian border. Ukrainian military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, says that the Ukrainian intelligence services estimate the number at closer to 45,000 Russian troops.
The Russian call up notice for military reserves appears to coincide with a general buildup of forces and equipment along the border of Eastern Ukraine. Head of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, submitted plans for reserve training in March, and Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the drills in late June.
The focus of the training will be in each unit’s areas of expertise. Today, August 6, commando units of the Caspian Flotilla are participating in training exercises in the Republic of Dagestan, while members of the Army air defenses are conducting tactical exercises, with live ammunition, at a base in the Moscow region. Also today, units with Russia’s Northern Fleet began training in satellite communications technology. Those units will conduct exercises in the Murmansk region of northern Russia.
Tomorrow, August 7, soldiers who operate armored vehicles from the Central Military District will train for rough terrain, and for river crossings, while units of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces will conduct exercises in the Kaluga area. Kaluga is just over two hours southwest of Moscow. Also on Thursday, pilots will practice maneuvers near the Ivanovo region.
Newsru.com reported that service personnel will receive 15,000 rubles, approximately $416 at today’s exchange rate. The ruble has dropped against the dollar in recent months. Russian employers are required to continue payment of wages to reserve service personnel during training call ups.
The war in 2008 with Georgia also began with large troops massed near the Georgian border, while training exercises were being conducted across several Russian regions. NATO officials say that the troops along the Ukrainian border represent a wide variety of military expertise, from armored divisions and tanks, to artillery and members of the Russian special forces.
Russian troops have already been staging a week of military exercises, with paratroopers and anti-missile defenses in Astrakhan, in southern Russia. Astrakhan is about 500 miles from the Ukrainian border. Similar exercises in that region took place just prior to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
NATO members Poland and Estonia, nation’s with experience of being under Moscow’s control, warn that Putin is planning a military invasion under the pretense of protecting the Russian ethnic minority populations living in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.
By Jim Hanemaayer