The Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Defense Ministry of Ukraine claims that the scale of the Caucasus-2016 exercise is much bigger than reported by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
"The real scale of the exercise is considerably bigger than the Russian Federation declares. Russia officially announced that 12 thousand soldiers, 90 tanks, 300 combat vehicles, up to 20 helicopters and up to 15 warships will participate in the exercise. However, today there are no international mechanisms that would ensure Russia’s openness and transparency on this issue," said the Directorate’s representative, Vadym Skibitsky, at a press conference in Kiev on the 5th of September.
According to Skibitsky’s data, Russia has gathered in the southwest about 100 thousand soldiers, more than 10 thousand combat vehicles and other equipment, 60 ships and 400 aircraft and helicopters.
"With help of military air transports, additional Russian airborne troops from the 76th division and 56th separate air assault brigade were transferred to the territory of the occupied Crimea. These forces have experience in military actions on the territory of Ukraine. On September 4th, a division of the Caspian Flotilla Marines arrived on the Opuk training ground," Skibitsky said.
He also said that more than 40 combat aircraft were transferred to the Crimea. At the moment, taking into account forces that were previously located on the peninsula, there are about 100 aircraft.
On Monday, September 5th, the Caucasus-2016 strategic command and staff exercises began on the territory of the Southern Military District of Russia. The exercises, which will last until the 10th of September are being held in the Crimea as well. They are attended by about 12,500 soldiers and attendant aviation, military vehicles and ships. The training will take place at the training areas of the Southern Military District and in the waters of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported.
Experts have expressed the opinion that the Caucasus-2016 exercises of the Russian Federation armed forces will practice operations against Ukraine.