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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 December 2007, 22:03 GMT
Russia to extend naval exercises
Kuznetsov aircraft carrier
Russia has been using oil revenues to bolster its military
Russia is planning naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean in what it says is a bid to boost its presence and protect shipping.

Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said battleships, helicopters and aircraft would take part in a range of manoeuvres, due to end in February.

This is the latest sign of a resurgence in Russia's military capabilities, the BBC's Nick Childs says.

Russia recently resumed long-range patrols by its bomber aircraft.

The practise was suspended after the collapse of the Soviet Union and was revived in August this year, as part of a more assertive foreign policy pursued by President Vladimir Putin.

According to a Kremlin transcript, Mr Serdyukov told Mr Putin on Wednesday that the "aim of the sorties is to ensure a naval presence in tactically important regions of the world's oceans".

Mr Serdyukov said Russia's Black Sea fleet would monitor the Mediterranean while its Northern Fleet would operate in the Atlantic.

Military analysts say Russia's boosted military presence is largely symbolic.

Higher oil prices have enabled Russia to re-invest in its armed forces but its military capabilities remain far below what they were during the Soviet era, correspondents say.

The Russian navy's reputation has been severely dented by accidents such as the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000.



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