Russia's defense minister says President Vladimir Putin has ordered the navy's Northern Fleet and paratrooper units to go on full alert as part of snap military exercises in the Arctic.
State-run RIA news agency quoted Sergei Shoigu as saying on March 16 that Russia faced new threats to its security, which forced it to boost its military strength and capabilities.
RIA reported that the drills were due to involve up to 40,000 troops, 41 warships, and 15 submarines.
"New challenges and threats to military security require the armed forces to further boost their capabilities. Special attention must be paid to strategic formations in the north," RIA quoted Shoigu as saying.
He said Putin, the armed forces commander in chief, issued the order for the exercises.
Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine have driven relations between Moscow and the West to their lowest level since the Cold War.
Putin has stressed the importance of a strong Russian presence in the resource-rich Arctic region, where it shares a border with NATO member Norway.