, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, said in a public briefing yesterday. He said drills involved 35,000 combat vehicles, 900 aircraft and 180 navy ships. Previous estimates put the Russian troop number at 100,000. Col. Gen. Alexander Zhuravlev, commander of Russia’s Western Military District, reported most of his troops are back at their garrisons, with one trainload of troops still on its way home.
and that units would be withdrawn to their bases in central and eastern Russia. Anticipating more drills later this year, he said soldiers would leave large weapons in place, largely in Pogonovo firing range two hours east of Kharkiv. Russian restrictions on flights near Crimea are to expire tomorrow. But the ban on foreign government ships from the southern approaches to the Kerch Strait is to remain in place through late October.
. Noting that the deployment includes field hospitals, he warned that only “a spark” could set off a conflict. On Saturday, four large landing ships from Russia’s Baltic and Northern fleets entered the Black Sea. From the east, 15 smaller ships from Russia’s Caspian Flotilla also entered the Black Sea. Russia’s Southern Military District said Saturday that over 50 aircraft were involved in an exercise over the Black Sea.