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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Paratroops Stage Jump Near Tula

Russia's airborne troops Thursday staged the largest military exercise since the Soviet collapse, landing planeload after planeload of paratroopers and heavy combat vehicles by parachute.

Foreign diplomats and journalists watched the tactical exercises in the Tula region south of Moscow, which the army said came off without a hitch despite heavy snow and poor visibility.

It was not clear how many troops took part in the exercises overall. But more than 1,000 men from one regiment participated in a landing witnessed by the observers near the Tesnitskoye training site outside Tula.

Planes dropped 10 parachuted vehicles, including two armored personnel carriers with crews inside. The Defense Ministry press service said no one was injured, according to Itar-Tass and Interfax.

Defense officials said the landing maneuvers and target practice were the first major tactical exercises in six years.

The airborne troops said the objective of the exercise was to master the transportation of large-strike units capable of defending Russia's national interests in critical situations.

Colonel General Georgy Shpak, commander of the airborne troops, told Itar-Tass that the troops should hold no less than 16 regiment exercises a year but have been limited to the single exercise for lack of funds.

Russia's military has been crippled by a lack of funding, poor morale and a lack of leadership or direction since the Soviet collapse.