Russia launches civil defence drills amid tensions with US

MOSCOW - The Russian Emergencies Ministry has launched a sweeping nationwide civil defence drill set to involve 40 million people.

Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said the four-day exercise launched Wednesday will help "raise government efficiency while dealing with the consequences of large-scale emergencies." Puchkov said his ministry can ensure "uninterrupted transport, energy supplies and communications."

The manoeuvrs evoke memories of the Cold War, when Soviet citizens were trained how to survive in case of a nuclear conflict. Some observers link the current drill to the widening strain in Russia-U.S. ties over Syria and other issues.

The nation's Cold War-era civil protection system that included a sprawling network of shelters in every city was dismantled after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the Emergencies Ministry has worked to restore some of its elements.


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