MOSCOW: Russia has started the strategic component of ongoing military exercises in the northwest of the country, an aide to the Ground Forces commander said on Tuesday.

The Ladoga-2009 drills, held from August 10 to September 28 as part of Russia’s military reforms, involve all units of the Leningrad military district, several units of the Siberian military district, interior troops, border guards, and the Northern and Baltic fleets.

“In accordance with the combat training plan of the Russian Armed Forces, the Ladoga-2009 strategic exercises are going ahead under the command of the Russian Ground Forces commander, Gen. Vladimir Boldyrev,” Col. Igor Konashenkov said.

The official said the current phase of the exercise involved the planning of strategic deployment of the armed forces in Russia’s northwest and putting the military units on high alert.

Under the ongoing military reform, Russia held on June 29 to July 10 the Caucasus-2009 exercises, which involved all the brigades of the North Caucasus military district, the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla.

During the Zapad (West) exercises on September 8-29, Russia will deploy two full-sized armies in Belarus.

Russia’s Ground Forces are deployed in six military districts: Moscow, Leningrad, North Caucasus, Urals, Siberian, and Far Eastern.

The central focus of the current reforms is the reorganization of the military command and control system from a four-tier (military district – army – division – regiment) to a three-tier structure (military district – operational command – brigade).