Friday, 29 Sep 2023

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet conducts military drills in Crimea despite coronavirus

While most of Europe was coming to the terms with the impact of the pandemic, crews from Vladimir Putin’s Black Sea Fleet launched their manoeuvres at the Opuk training range. A spokesman for the fleet said: “The exercise was primarily aimed at training artillery recruits to use the Grad-M multiple rocket launchers and the Msta-B howitzers.”

Thank God, he always feels brilliant

Dmitry Peskov

He continued: “Troops particularly practiced ways to calibrate artillery pieces, prepare to fire and change firing positions.

“During the drills, particular attention was paid to arranging observation and reconnaissance posts, including the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to improve the skills in detecting targets and adjusting artillery fire at night, as well as in coordinating with artillery crews.”

The spokesman said the Black Sea Fleet’s artillery units would complete the drills by the end of the month.

There was no suggestion of any delay or cancellation to the exercises because of the global health crisis sparked by coronavirus.

Russia has reported 199 cases of the disease so far, far fewer than in many other European countries.

But the figure has risen sharply in recent days and one person diagnosed with the virus has died.

The government insists its statistics are accurate, that its handling of the virus has been transparent and that the situation is under control.

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Meanwhile, Moscow has issued a statement today making clear Mr Putin had not been tested for coronavirus and was healthy and had no symptoms.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said everyone involved in events with the 67-year-old president was being screened for the virus in advance and people in Crimea who received state awards from him this week had been tested prior to the ceremony.

Mr Peskov said: “We think these are justified measures so the president can confidently continue working.

“Thank God, he always feels brilliant.”

Mr Peskov said earlier this week that he had been tested for coronavirus himself along with all high-ranking Kremlin officials.

Moscow city authorities reported Russia’s first coronavirus-related death yesterday, a 79-year-old woman in Moscow with underlying health issues.

Mr Putin said authorities fighting the virus should be ready for anything.

Russia has temporarily barred entry to foreigners and imposed restrictions on flights and public gatherings.

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Officials say most infected people have entered Russia from coronavirus hotspots abroad.

Authorities said everyone who arrives in Russia must now self-isolate for two weeks.

Police in Moscow say they have used facial recognition technology to catch more than 200 people who violated the terms of their self-isolation or quarantine.

Mr Putin told an official in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, that he approved of what was being done in that region to combat the virus.

He said: “We must be prepared for any development of events, so you are doing everything right.”

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