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Russia carried out snap military drills in Kaliningrad region

Russian President Vladimir Putin reacts during a photo opportunity with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin ordered snap military drills in Russia’s westernmost Kaliningrad region earlier this month, the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday.

The drills, which mobilised 9,000 soldiers and more than 55 naval ships, were carried out to test the military’s combat readiness in Kaliningrad, an exclave that borders NATO members Lithuania and Poland.

The drills were carried out between Dec. 5-10.

“The exercise involved units of missile troops, artillery, mechanised infantry, airborne troops, marine forces, units of reconnaissance, communications, logistics, as well as combat and military transport aircraft, helicopters and ships of the Baltic Fleet,” TASS news agency said, citing the Armed Forces General Staff.

Russia has carried out numerous snap military drills since ties with the West plummeted in the crisis over Ukraine and Moscow has criticised what it called a build-up of NATO forces near Russia’s borders.

Kiev and the West say some of those exercises carried out in western Russia near the border with Ukraine were used to increase pressure on Kiev and show support for pro-Russian separatists who took up arms in east Ukraine in April.

The report said all units of the armed forces used in the exercises had returned to their bases.

Reporting by Thomas Grove, Editing by Timothy Heritage