Russia releases chilling footage of war games in Crimea

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Russia has been amassing thousands of troops on its shared border with Ukraine for weeks, sparking concerns about an incoming invasion. Moscow has been at loggerheads with the international community since 2014, when Russian soldiers annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine. Kiev has estimated over 100,000 troops are now laying in wait at the border as Vladimir Putin warned of  “appropriate military-technical measures” in response to NATO expansion.

The footage released on Christmas Day showed soldiers practicing “new forms and methods of modern combined arms combat” in the region of Voronezh, which borders Ukraine.

Over 1,200 air assault troops and 250 pieces of equipment were involved in the war games in the snow at the Opuk mountain range in Crimea.

The drills come after President Vladimir Putin announced the successful salvo launch of Mach-9 capable Zircon missiles – weapons Moscow claims able to evade missile defenses.

Putin said earlier this week: “Zircon are our newest missiles fired from the sea at sea targets, and land targets.

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“The tests were carried out successfully, flawlessly.

“This is a big event for our country, a significant step in improving Russia’s security, in increasing (our) defence capability.”

According to reports, the war games involved “motorised rifle, tank, artillery and reconnaissance units’ as well as military drones, ‘electronic warfare equipment.”

The Russian Defence Ministry said the soldiers were challenged to take down targets posing as hostile military drones.

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They said: “Standard small arms, weapons of BMD-2K-AU amphibious combat vehicles, ZU-23 air defence systems, and Verba MANPADS were fired.

“Artillery, TOS-1A Solntsepyok and 2S9 Nona self-propelled systems deployed in three-position areas suppressed firing nests, places of concentration and command posts of the mock enemy.”

National Security and Defence Council secretary Oleksiy Danilov claimed the number of soldiers increased by at least 11,000 between October and December, rising to an estimated 104,000.

Mr Danilov insisted officials do not want to “scare people” over concerns that would “destabilise the situation inside the country.”

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US, European and Ukrainian leaders have accused Russia of building up troops again near Ukraine’s border since October after an earlier brief buildup in April, when Maxar also released images.

Joe Biden and other leaders say Moscow appears to be weighing an attack on Ukraine as soon as next month, a claim Russia has repeatedly denied.

The images released late on Thursday showed a base in Crimea packed with hundreds of armoured vehicles and tanks as of December 13.

A Maxar satellite image of the same base in October showed the base was half empty.

Maxar said a new brigade-level unit, comprised of several hundred armoured vehicles that include BMP-series infantry fighting vehicles, tanks, self-propelled artillery and air defence equipment, had arrived at the Russian garrison.

In a statement, Maxar said: “Over the past month, our high-resolution satellite imagery has observed a number of new Russian deployments in Crimea as well as in several training areas in western Russia along the periphery of the Ukraine border.”

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