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Defense minister: drills prove Russia's ability to quickly field forces to several areas

  • Russian Black Sea fleet sailors shout as they march during a military parade in Sevastopol, Crimea, Wednesday, March 18, 2015. Russia on Wednesday marked the one year anniversary of the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. (AP Photo/Alexander Polegenko)

    Russian Black Sea fleet sailors shout as they march during a military parade in Sevastopol, Crimea, Wednesday, March 18, 2015. Russia on Wednesday marked the one year anniversary of the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. (AP Photo/Alexander Polegenko)  (The Associated Press)

  • Russian Black Sea fleet sailors take part in a military parade in Sevastopol, Crimea, on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. Russia on Wednesday marked the one year anniversary of the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. (AP Photo/Alexander Polegenko)

    Russian Black Sea fleet sailors take part in a military parade in Sevastopol, Crimea, on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. Russia on Wednesday marked the one year anniversary of the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. (AP Photo/Alexander Polegenko)  (The Associated Press)

Russia's defense minister says the military has proven its capability to quickly deploy large forces to distant areas.

Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday that about 76,000 troops, over 100 ships and more than 200 aicraft are taking part in Arctic maneuvers this week. At the same time, the military is conducting similar drills across Russia — from the westernmost Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad to the Pacific.

Shoigu said, according to Russian news agencies, that the military has successfully "built up a multi-branch combat capability in the Arctic, in the Baltics and in Crimea."

The war games, intended to showcase Russia's revived military might, come amid a bitter strain in relations with the West over Ukraine. They include the deployment of state-of-the art missiles to Kaliningrad and strategic bombers to Crimea.