russia jet

Pictured: A fighter jet is seen taking off in footage released by Russia's military ministry of defence. Amid concern over Russia's troop movements, Russia says it is up to Moscow alone where it moves its forces around on its territory and that they pose no external threat
Troops in Russia's Far East have begun winter inspections, according to a statement by the country's Ministry of Defense, as Moscow holds talks with NATO about de-escalating tensions.

Officials announced on Friday that forces stationed in the Eastern Military District, which covers a vast swath of land from Siberia to the Sea of Japan, were undertaking inspections and exercises intended to ensure their military readiness.

The ministry said this would include live firing in testing ranges, and emphasized that special attention would be paid to the soldiers' preparedness for rapid deployment.

"The military forces of the Russian Federation are continuing the planned exercises for the winter period. In order to prepare to conduct the strategic exercises 'Vostok-2022', the troops of the Eastern Military District are undertaking snap inspections of their operational readiness," the statement read.

It concluded, "the undertakings will help to assess the Eastern Military District's troops' readiness to carry out tasks according to instructions after they have been reorganized across the great distances of the territory of the Russian Federation."

In December, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu had announced the upcoming exercises for 2022, called 'Vostok' ("East") and 'Grom' ("Thunder"). In addition to those in the Far East, exercises will also take place in the western part of the country, including near the border with Ukraine.

The Russian news agency TASS reported last week that a source in the Ministry of Defense had said that 'Grom' was the name authorities had given to planned exercises for the nation's nuclear forces in early 2022.

The latest drills come as negotiators from Moscow met in Europe this week with representatives from the US and NATO to discuss security in the region and military de-escalation.