Russia's Putin to supervise 'planned' military drill on Saturday

Defense Ministry says military exercises routine, held annually, planned long before.

Russia's Putin to supervise 'planned' military drill on Saturday

Russian President Vladimir Putin will personally supervise a military drill on Saturday, the country's Defense Ministry said on Friday amid rising tensions with the West over Ukraine.

In a statement, it said the training of strategic deterrence forces was scheduled long before to check the readiness of military control centers, as well as of the units, warship crews and missile carrier aircraft.

The exercise, held annually, is also meant to check the reliability of armament of the strategic nuclear and non-nuclear forces, the ministry added.

The Aerospace Forces, Southern Military District, Strategic Missile Forces, Northern and Black Sea Fleets will take part in the exercises.

Western countries have accused Russia of amassing more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine, prompting fears that it could be planning a military offensive against its ex-Soviet neighbor.

Denying that it is preparing to invade, Moscow has accused Western countries of undermining its security through NATO’s expansion towards its borders.

The Kremlin says it has pulled back some of its troops following military exercises, but Western leaders argue they have yet to see any evidence of that.

Russia also demanded a rollback of troop deployments from some ex-Soviet states, and guarantees that NATO would not accept some of those states into the military alliance.

NATO, however, said its "door remains open" and any decision on membership is for allies and aspirant countries to take, and nobody else.