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Russian air defense troops conduct exercises

March 19, 1997

MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia’s air defense forces fended off mock air and space attacks today in the first such war games since the Soviet Union collapsed more than five years ago.

The exercises, aimed at checking the readiness of all levels of the Air Defense Troops’ command system, displayed the ``high professional skills″ of commanders and combat crews, air defense chief Gen. Viktor Prudnikov told the ITAR-Tass news agency.

``The exercises have shown that the Air Defense Troops reliably protect Russian air space and guarantee its national security despite the acute shortage of funds,″ he said.

President Boris Yeltsin has said there is urgent need to reform the military, but no major restructuring has yet been carried out.

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