Russia kicked off its annual large-scale military exercise on Monday with a goal of testing the readiness of its forces, amid rising concerns over Moscow’s recent flexing of its muscles including the buildup of its forces in Syria. About 95,000 Russian troops are participating in the Centre-2015 exercise alongside forces from former Soviet states such as Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The war games will include 170 fighter jets and 20 warships.  Centre-2015 is scheduled to take place in 20 locations, spanning an area from the Volga River to the Ural Mountains and Siberia. The exercise by ground, air and naval forces is to conclude on September 20. DEBKA