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Russia Concludes Six-Day Exercise, Tours Foreign Military Attachés Through National Defense Center

March 22, 2015 (EIRNS)—The Russian military conducted an unprecedented tour yesterday of the Russian National Defense Center, to which the defense attachés of foreign embassies in Moscow, including those of NATO countries, were invited for the first time ever. This came on the concluding day of Russia’s six-day military maneuvers, which began when Russian President Putin ordered a snap exercise of the Northern Fleet/Arctic Fleet command, also involving airborne forces and several other military districts. The Northern Fleet is the "strategic" fleet of the Russian Navy, with the most submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

This tour of the "holy of holies," as the Channel One Russia reporter called it, was the the lead item on national Russian TV yesterday. The National Defense Center was opened just a few months ago.

The six-day exercise involved the deployment of Iskander nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad, the far western Russian enclave that was formerly East Prussia; of TU-22 2015M long-range, nuclear-capable Backfire bombers to Crimea; and of 76,000 military personnel, 41 ships, 15 submarines including forward-deployed nuclear submarines, and 110 warplanes and combat helicopters.

Anatoli Antonov, Russian deputy defense minister, gave the briefing to those toured through the National Defense Center. The military attachÃàs from different countries were shown film footage of the completed exercise. China's Xinhua reported that Antonov said about the exercise—which left an unmistakeable impression: "Moscow only acted in a defensive way to ensure its national security. We are not seeking confrontation with NATO. We would like our cooperation to develop." He noted that NATO planes are constantly flying along Russia's borders, without Russia answering with the kind of "hysteria" that has accompanied this week's Russian maneuvers.

Andrei Kartapolov, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, said, according to Xinhua, that Russia will continue to hold surprise drills. Antonov said that foreign representatives will continue to be invited to them. "We want to cooperate and live in peace," Antonov added, also urging the foreign attachés to submit honest reports and not portray the Russians as "monsters."

Russian President Putin ordered the construction of the Russian National Defense Center on May 20, 2014, and it became operational on Dec. 20. The Dec. 1, 2014 RT said that, among the functions tasked to the center, are "round-the-clock monitoring of military threats against Russia, particularly ballistic missile launches and deployment of strategic nuclear weapons."