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Russia Testing Air-Defense Systems In Southern Astrakhan Region

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on August 20 that it is conducting more military exercises in southern Russia as fighting intensified in neighboring Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said Russian forces are testing long-range antiaircraft missiles from the Ashuluk air base in the southern Astrakhan region.

The spokesman said there would be about 20 launches of S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air missiles on August 20 with about 800 Russian troops involved.

The Ashuluk base is about 640 kilometers from the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk. The Russian missiles have a range of up to 400 kilometers.

Russia has conducted numerous military exercises close to Ukraine this summer, massing at least 20,000 troops near the border.

NATO and Western countries have said the Russian military exercises and deployments are aimed at intimidating Kyiv and have emboldened separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.

Based on reporting by AFP and Interfax