MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin ordered an urgent combat readiness drill Wednesday for Russian troops in central and western military districts, according to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Russian media outlets report.

The state-run TV network RT.com notes that while the Western media has linked the order to events in Ukraine, the drill was proposed by Putin as early as last September and followed similar massive exercises in 2013.

RT.com says the drill included troops dealing with mock security and terrorist threats.

The Russian Interfax news agency reports that the readiness checks would also involve "aerospace, airborne troops, long-range and military transport aviation."

According to the defense minister, the drill, which began at 2 p.m. Moscow time, will be held through March 3 in two stages.

The second stage involves an "opposing-force exercise" with the participation of Russia's northern and Baltic fleet and bomb strike drills, the Russian TV news outlet reports.

The drills come against a backdrop of tensions between the West and Russia over the political instability in Russia's western neighbor.

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