- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia’s defense minister says the military this year will hold more than 2,000 drills to improve its combat readiness.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at Wednesday’s meeting with the top military brass that a special emphasis will be given to training the army’s tactical battle units, as well as paratroopers, pilots and navy ship crews. He noted that the military relies on the combat experience it has gained in Syria to improve training.

Shoigu said the Caucasus 2016 maneuvers set for September in southwestern Russia will be this year’s largest. This year’s drills will also include joint maneuvers with Belarus, Mongolia and other countries.

Despite Russia’s economic downturn, the Kremlin has continued to spend big on military training and weapons modernization amid tensions with the West over the Ukrainian crisis.

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