MOSCOW: Russia launched military manoeuvres on its westernmost edge Tuesday, a day after NATO began war games near the Russian border that Moscow labeled "an act of aggression," amid simmering East-West tensions over Ukraine.
The Russian Defense Ministry said military drills involving the Baltic Sea fleet, the air force and paratroopers were under way in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave sandwiched between EU and NATO members Poland and Lithuania.
"The maneuvers are taking place just as the international games Saber Strike-2014 and Baltops-2014 began in Europe," the Defense Ministry said. "The number of personnel involved in the Kaliningrad maneuvers as well as defense ministry hardware are comparable with the number of personnel, weapons and military equipment involved in the drills conducted by NATO member countries on the border."
The Western military alliance Monday launched one of its largest military maneuvers in the ex-Soviet Baltic states since tensions with Moscow spiked over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.
Around 4,700 troops and 800 military vehicles from 10 countries including Britain, Canada and the United States are participating in the Saber Strike exercises near the Latvian capital Riga.
Russia was quick to object to the drills, which it described as "act of aggression" and which were due to move to neighboring Lithuania Tuesday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that NATO eastward expansion was counterproductive, saying all countries had an obligation not to beef up security at the expense of others.