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Russia launches military preparedness drill

A pro-Russian fighter holds a gun during a handover of the bodies of Ukrainian troops killed in a plane shot down near Luhansk, at a checkpoint in the village of Karlivka near Donetsk, eastern Ukraine June 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

MOSCOW: Russia has launched a military preparedness drill that includes moving troops in Siberia and the Urals to other locations, a military official said Friday.

"Some motorized and air defense groups located in the Urals and Western Siberia have been put on alert and have begun multi-kilometer marches... to destination areas," said the assistant commander of Russia's central military district Yaroslav Roshchupkin, Russian agencies reported.

He did not specify where the troops were being moved, but said that the exercise was "comprehensive check of the troops' military preparedness."

The news comes after NATO Thursday reported a build-up of Russian forces near Ukraine's border and follows a late-night meeting of the Russian Security Council where President Vladimir Putin discussed the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Russia's RBK news agency quoted a source in the defense ministry Thursday as saying that troops are being pulled toward the Ukrainian border along with field hospitals and fueling equipment and were prepared to enter Ukraine's insurgent Donetsk and Lugansk regions in order to "put up barriers between the civilian population and the Ukrainian army."

 

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