The Russian Army (Sukhoputnye voyska Rossiyskoy Federatsii) ended war games near its western borders as the country ramps up preventative measures to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19 virus). The war games were to be a response to a massive exercise by NATO troops in March, Europe-Defender 20, as the biggest deployment of U.S.-based troops in Europe since the Cold War but was severely reduced in scope after the outbreak. The NATO exercise was criticized by the Kremlin, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in February that Russia would respond with a reciprocal show of force.
The Russian armed forces hasn’t detailed its plans to battle coronavirus. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Friday no-one in the army had tested positive for the disease, and the armed forces continues to prepare for the 75th anniversary celebrations for the end of World War II. More than 10,000 soldiers had begun practicing near Moscow for the May 9 parade on Red Square despite a ban on public gatherings outside. Russia has announced only 200 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and none were in the country’s armed forces. The Russian military is involved in an airlift of medical personnel and material to Italy, which has been severely struck by the pandemic.