World

Putin meets with military leaders, says war games will continue

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, meets with Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov, back, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, front, in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, meets with Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov, back, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, front, in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)  (The Associated Press)

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks with Simon Bartley, president of WorldSkills International, at their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Yuri Kadobnov, Pool)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks with Simon Bartley, president of WorldSkills International, at their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Yuri Kadobnov, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

Russian President Vladimir Putin says a massive military exercise has marked the beginning of a series of such drills this year.

Last week's maneuvers across Russia, from the Arctic to the Black Sea, involved 80,000 troops, about 100 navy ships and more than 220 aircraft. The war games come amid a spike in tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Putin Tuesday that the maneuvers were aimed at checking the readiness of the newly formed group of forces in the Arctic, as well as the military's capability to quickly field troops to several theaters of operations.

The maneuvers involved the deployment of Iskander missiles to Russia's westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad and Tu-22M3 bombers to Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula Russia annexed from Ukraine.