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Russia Holds Large-scale Military Drills in Crimea

Russian navy ships and helicopters take a part in a landing operation during military drills at Crimea's Black Sea coast, Sept. 9, 2016. Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014.

Russia on Friday deployed cruise missiles, multiple rocket launchers, tanks and its latest anti-aircraft system at massive military drills in Crimea.

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014 and since then has sent thousands of troops and heavy weaponry there.

The Russian defense ministry invited dozens of journalists Friday to a remote firing range at the Black Sea coast to display elaborate war games which involved paratroopers, tanks, cruise missiles launched from a submarine and the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system.

The drills, which began across southern Russia and Crimea earlier this week and have involved a total of over 120,000 troops, are some of the largest exercises Russia has held for years.

The chief of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, insisted in emailed comments that there have never been more than 12,500 troops involved in the drills at a given moment, which means that Russia did not violate any international treaties.