Moscow:  Russian President Vladimir Putin today told troops to return to their permanent bases after calling a snap drill to check their battle-readiness last week.

“The commander-in-chief President Vladimir Putin gave the order to the troops and units taking part in military exercises to return to their permanent bases,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.

Putin on February 26 ordered snap combat readiness drills involving thousands of troops, in what was ostensibly a routine exercise.

The drill involved army, navy and airforce troops based in the central and western military districts, a vast territory that includes regions bordering Ukraine but also extending to the Arctic.

The drill did not include any regions beyond Russia’s borders such as Crimea, the Ukrainian Black Sea region which has become a flashpoint in the standoff between Moscow and Ukraine’s new authorities after the ousting of president Viktor Yanukovych.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had said that the drill would include military exercises “on Russia’s borders with other countries, including Ukraine”.

The drill, which was initially announced to finish yesterday, came shortly before Russian security forces began operating covertly in Crimea and Putin gained permission from senators for military intervention.

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