Moscow, 1 August 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Russia today launched military exercises in the Caspian Sea that will involve more than 60 warships and 10,000 men. The two-week exercise is the largest military drill in the area since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Some 30 planes and helicopters will also take part in the exercises, which will involve all branches of the Russian military.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the war games in April, after a summit of heads of state from the five Caspian states aimed at resolving the partition of the sea's hydrocarbon resources ended in failure.
Russian Navy commander Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov denied that Russia is demonstrating its military strength to its neighbors, but he said Moscow wants to show it can protect its interests.