Russia to create three new military divisons in its western region

Defence Minister says 'five rocket regiments, equipped with modern rocket complexes, will enter active service in 2016'

Russia is to form three new military divisions in the military region nearest to Europe and recruit five new strategic nuclear-missile regiments this year, Russia’s Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, said. 

The announcement, made at a meeting on Tuesday, comes as the Russian government pours billions of dollars into overhauling the country’s military, some of whose forces are conducting air strikes in Syria. “Our main effort should go into strengthening the potential of our strategic nuclear forces and of fulfilling the space-defence programme,” Mr Shoigu said. “Five rocket regiments, equipped with modern rocket complexes, will enter active service in 2016.” 

Improvements will be made to infrastructure which supports nuclear forces, while depots and facilities holding nuclear-armed submarines and long-range nuclear bombers are to be upgraded. Permanent facilities, test sites, military hardware depots and barracks will also be developed.

Unannounced inspections within the military are also to intensify this year. Mr Shoigu said the checks will be carried out across all military districts, with particular emphasis on troops to be transferred across long distances.

The plan to reinforce the military in Russia’s western army region, which faces Northern and Central Europe, falls against a backdrop of growing tensions between Russia and the West since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Russia has long accused Nato of expanding too far eastwards, which the President, Vladimir Putin, blames for strained relations with the West.

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