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Russian navy forces hold major drills in Baltic Sea

This undated photo shows Russian forces performing a beach landing operation during a military exercise in Kaliningrad. (Photo by TASS)
The Russian navy has staged major tactical drills in the westernmost region of Kaliningrad, the latest in a series of high-profile war games by the country’s military forces in the strategic Baltic Sea.
More than 2,000 marines and soldiers from the 11th Army Corps of the Russian Baltic Fleet took part in the maneuver, which was held at the Khmelyovka coastal training range, Fleet Spokesman Roman Martov told TASS on Thursday.
"The drills were aimed at training the skills of seizing coastal areas and driving the enemy forces out of them," Martov said, noting that more than five tons of different munitions were used to create a more realistic environment.
Besides the relatively large number of troops, the exercises involved more than 100 pieces of military hardware, including 20 warships, boats and supply vessels as well as 12 planes and helicopters from the Baltic Fleet’s naval aircraft units, according to the spokesman.
On the ground, the drills featured tanks, the Akatsiya self-propelled howitzers, Grad multiple launch rocket systems and Shilka self-propelled antiaircraft guns, while Sukhoi Su-24 aircraft and Mil Mi-24 attack helicopters provided air support and fired missiles at designated enemy targets.
Two separate assault groups also joined the drills after being airlifted by a Mil Mi-8 helicopter and an Antonov An-26 transport aircraft.
"During the exercises, ships carrying marine assault groups trained to suppress the simulated enemy’s coastal strongpoints and honed the tactics of military activities behind enemy’s lines, which particularly involve marine assault groups,” Martov said.
The war game came weeks after Russia held its first joint naval drill with China in the Baltic Sea since the two countries began their joint exercises in 2012.
Featuring China’s most advanced guided-missile destroyer Hefei, the exercise was widely seen as a strong message to the US and its NATO allies, who have been trying to expand their military presence in the region despite Russia’s warnings.
Russia has announced that the second stage of the drills will be held in September. Russian military forces are also preparing for a joint exercise with Belarus in the same month.

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