Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Russian Federation kicks off biggest war games in decades, amid tensions

Russian Federation kicks off biggest war games in decades, amid tensions

The Chinese media have described the People's Liberation Army involvement in the drills as the country's largest-ever dispatch of forces overseas for war games.

The Russian military says the massive war games, known as Vostok-2018, are purely defensive in nature.

Beijing is sending about 3,200 troops, 900 combat vehicles and 30 aircraft to join the drills at a firing range.

Russia's Ministry of Defense said that 300,000 troops will participate in the exercise called Vostok ("East") 2018, that is taking place in the country's far east, close to Mongolia and China.

The strengthening of military ties between Russian Federation and China is particularly alarming given rising tensions between each country and Washington. The drill shall also test the maneuvering defense of all military personnel and arsenal, their capability to inflict damage to enemies, and accuracy of the army aviation.

The Russian army has compared the show of force to the USSR's 1981 war games that saw between 100,000 and 150,000 Warsaw Pact soldiers take part in "Zapad-81" (West-81) - the largest military exercises of the Soviet era.

Jack Watling, a research fellow at London's Royal United Services Institute, told NBC News that Vostok 2018 is an attempt by both nations to prove that they can carry out military exercises at a scale that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has not achieved. Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at a forum in Vladivostok and told him "we have a trusting relationship in the sphere of politics, security and defence", BBC reported.

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Jack Watling, a research individual practicing in land warfare at London's Royal United Services Institute a defense think tank elucidated Vostok 2018 as an affirmation of force to some expanse. In addition to this, Putin and Xi seem to be getting along well, with the Chinese premier calling the Russian president his "best, most intimate friend".

Russian Federation has faced ever harsher sanctions since angering the West and Kiev by annexing Crimea in 2014 and backing separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

"We're aware of Russia's right to sovereignty and to exercise in order to ensure their readiness", he said.

"Cooperation in traditional security fields between China and Russian Federation has a very clear target [the United States]", he said.

Peskov has earlier said Russia's "ability to defend itself in the current worldwide situation which is often aggressive and unfriendly to our country is justified, essential and without alternative".

That large-scale exercise, called the Zapad drills, involved nearly 13,000 troops.

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