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Russian president joins in military exercises

world Updated: Sep 28, 2009 20:16 IST

AFP
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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday donned a military uniform and a machine gun to attend major military exercises in the latest bid to project a tough-guy image.

Medvedev peered through binoculars to watch exercises in Russia's western exclave of Kaliningrad which borders the European Union and also examined a machine gun and other military equipment, television pictures showed.

He wore a naval forces jacket emblazoned with a badge reading "DA Medvedev, commander of the military forces of the Russian Federation" as well as a small Russian flag.

The exercises, a joint operation with neighbouring Belarus, have been taking place since September 8 and involve more than 12,000 troops.

Medvedev in recent months has moved to burnish tough-guy credentials as Russia fights militants in the northern Caucasus, often using earthy language reminiscent of his predecessor Vladimir Putin.

The military presented him with a special knife made of composite materials which Russian news agencies said was effective both underwater and on land.

"It can cut, it can chop and it sits very well in the hand," commented the president, flanked by Russia's top general Nikolai Makarov.

However Medvedev emphasised that the exercises, which carry on Tuesday in Belarus, did not pose a threat to any country.

"I want to emphasise that our exercises have a defensive character. We are not threatening anyone," he said, quoted by Russian news agencies.

"We have not had this sort of military exercises for a long time. That they are taking place on such a scale now is reassuring."