Despite Putin’s promise to Macron, Russian forces begin tactical exercises

Russian news agencies quoted a spokesman for the Southern Military District Command as saying that the three weeks of night tactical exercises will include missile systems, tanks and armored vehicles.

The Russian announcement did not specify whether the exercises were a new development or part of long-term plans.

Last December, Moscow said that 3,000 exercises would be conducted in the southern region during 2022.

Putin met his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in the Kremlin on Monday, and a French official said Putin had promised not to hold new military exercises near Ukraine for the time being.

Russia’s southern military region is located on the border with Ukraine and includes Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. But the list of ten regions where the maneuvers will be held does not include the territories on the border with Ukraine, but rather include areas in southern Russia and breakaway regions from Georgia.

Macron became the largest Western leader to meet with Putin since Russia began massing more than 100,000 troops near the border with Ukraine.

Western powers accuse Russia of planning an invasion, but Moscow denies those plans, but says it may take military action, which it did not specify, unless a number of demands are met, including a pledge from NATO that Ukraine will not join its membership.

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