Russia launches massive air force maneuvers with 250 aircraft, 12,000 servicemen;

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MOSCOW — The Russian military has launched a massive exercise involving 250 aircraft and other weapons.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement Monday the drills will involve air force and air defense units of the Central, Western and Southern Military Districts totaling 12,000 servicemen. Combat aircraft will deploy to temporary bases and air defense systems will be sent to the Ashuluk and Kapustin Yar shooting ranges in southern Russia for training with live ammunition.

It also said long-range Russian bombers will launch cruise missiles at practice targets at a Siberian firing range.

The exercise is part of a series of Russian military maneuvers taking place amid tensions with the West over Russian actions in Ukraine. The current drills are preparation for even more massive Center-2015 maneuvers set for later this year.

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