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Russia Launches Military Exercises In Crimea, Abkhazia, Day After Presidential Vote

Russian armed forces have launched large-scale military exercises in southern parts of the country and in occupied Crimea and the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The exercises began on March 19, the day after Russia held its presidential election, which incumbent President Vladimir Putin won in a landslide.

News agencies said around 8,000 troops were taking part in the drills, along with multiple rocket launchers, artillery systems, and other weaponry.

Since seizing the Black Sea peninsula in March 2014, Russia has moved to bolster its military presence in Crimea, and held multiple joint exercises with the Southern Military District.

Russian forces also maintain a presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two breakaway Georgian regions that Moscow recognized as independent countries after a five-day war against Tbilisi in 2008.

With reporting by Interfax