(Adds details, background)
MOSCOW May 8 President Vladimir Putin oversaw
test launches of Russian military rockets on Thursday during
training exercises held across Russia the day before
celebrations of the anniversary of its World War Two victory.
"We are carrying out tests of the readiness of the Russian
armed forces. It was announced in November last year," he told
journalists at the Defence Ministry, alongside Defence Minister
"The exercises will involve all branches of the armed forces
across the country," he said.
The training exercises, which are due to include ground
troops and artillery as well as the air force, were held during
a summit of heads of state of a security bloc made up of former
A military source said the exercises were not connected to
events in Ukraine.
The West has accused Russia of using previous military
exercises to build up forces along the border with Ukraine after
the ousting of former Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich.
Putin said on Wednesday Russia had withdrawn forces from the
(Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya, Writing by Thomas Grove,
Editing by Nigel Stephenson)