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As Russian troops strut across freshly acquired bases in Crimea and mass on Ukraine's eastern border, stoking fears of Russian invasion, Ukrainian forces (after withdrawing troops and equipment from the peninsula), hosted a series of military exercises in the country's north in recent days. These displays of both nations' fighting forces have become the focal point of ongoing speculation of what might come next in this dangerous geopolitical stand-off.

For Russia, the annexation of Crimea has served the quiet debut of its new military, freshly equipped, and "lean, fit and sober," according to the New York Times on Wednesday, defying expectations of the post-Soviet forces that, while mighty, had been less than crisp during the 2008 invasion of Georgia. In the early days of the crisis, when unidentified troops surrounded Crimean airports, the Guardian reported that "the Ukrainian forces are still formidable, better-trained, engaged over the last decade in international peacekeeping missions and established close contacts with western counterparts." Though the $40.7 billion Russia spent on its military last year dwarfed the $1.4 billion that Ukraine invested, the Russian army was expected to meet bitter resistance for incursions into western Ukraine.

According to the New York Times's C.J. Chivers, that's not so. The rebuilding of the Russian military has been part of President Vladimir Putin's promise to restore Russia's past grandeur -- a plan that would increase military spending to $100 billion in 2016, up from $80 billion this year. Still, what Russia will do with the equipment it has recently sent to Crimea remains to be seen. "Tanks headed north into Ukraine this week from Russian-controlled Crimea," the Associated Press wrote, "[n]ot at the head of an invading army, but on a trainload of military equipment in such poor shape that Moscow had no use for it."

Above, Russian soldiers wait to unload a train bearing modified T-72 tanks in Gvardeyskoe railway station near Simferopol, Crimea, on March 31.

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A man stands near a trainload of Ukrainian tanks after their arrival in Gvardeyskoe railway station near Simferopol, on March 31.*

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*Correction, April 4, 2014: The tanks in the photo above are Ukrainian. An earlier version of this slideshow mistakenly stated that they were "modified T-72 Russian tanks." The exact make of the tanks could not be confirmed.

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Russian navy ships, including the formerly Ukrainian Khmelnitsky (now Russian) anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette, are moored in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on April 1. Ukraine's maritime forces have been severely diminished by the Russian intervention in Crimea; Kiev lost 12 of its 17 warships to Moscow, including the Ternopil ASW corvette, defense analysts Jane's reported on March 26.

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A woman walks past a trainload of KAMAZ Russian military trucks after their arrival at Ostryakovo railway station, near Simferopol, on April 1.

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Russian soldiers unload trainload of KAMAZ military trucks after their arrival at Ostryakovo railway station, on April 1.

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Russian soldiers unload modified T-72 tanks after arrival at the Gvardeyskoe railway station, on March 31.

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Russian navy seamen practice diving skills in front of a Tarantul-III class missile boat moored in Sevastopol on April 1.

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Ukrainian soldiers participate in military exercises in Desna, Chernigov region, on April 2.

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Ukrainian forces on a firing range in Desna on April 2.

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Ukrainian tanks and helicopters take part in military exercises in Desna, on April 2.

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Ukrainian Acting Minister of Defense Michail Koval (right) and Olexander Turchynov, speaker of the parliament and Ukraine's interim president, attend military exercises on the shooting range in Desna, on April 2.

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A Ukrainian soldier stands behind his machine gun at a military base in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on March 29.

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Ukrainian soldiers take part in training exercises at a military base in Donetsk, on March 29. 

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A goat grazes near a trainload of modified T-72 Russian tanks after their arrival in Gvardeyskoe railway station near Simferopol, Crimea, on March 31.

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