Russia prepares for biggest war games in its history

Pauline Gross
September 12, 2018

The start of the exercises coincided with a bilateral meeting between President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping at a forum in Valdivostok, where they vowed to fight attacks on their economies.

Russia´s previous military exercise in the region, Vostok-2014, was nearly half the size, with 155,000 soldiers participating.

The demonstration of military might will include some joint exercises with the Chinese army.

"The enemy is the United States and its allies".

The latter comprise six Mi-171s, which were bought from Russian Federation in 2014 and are making their first appearance in such an exercise, nine Z-9s and nine Z-19s.

China's official People's Liberation Army Daily said on Wednesday that the drill was aimed at maintaining regional peace, was not aimed at any third party and did not "have anything to do with the regional situation".

The war games demonstrate "Russia's focus on exercising large-scale conflict", North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesman Dylan White said in late August, stating that the Western alliance had been briefed about Vostk-2018 and would monitor it.

"China, by sending a PLA element to train with the Russians, is signalling that USA pressure is pushing it towards much closer military cooperation with Moscow".

Experts said in reality neither China or Russian Federation believe the two are close to a full-fledged military alliance, but the joint drills nonetheless reflected how much more cooperative the two countries' relationship has become, after decades of suspicion during the Soviet period.

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China and Russian Federation have staged joint drills before but not on such a large scale, and the Vostok-2018 (East-2018) exercise signals closer military ties as well as sending an unspoken reminder to Beijing that Moscow is able and ready to defend its sparsely populated far east.

In this photo provided by the Russian Defence Ministry Press Service on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, a Russian soldier guards an area during the military exercises in the Chita region, Eastern Siberia, during the Vostok 2018 exercises.

"Imagine 36,000 military vehicles moving at the same time: tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles - and all of this, of course, in conditions as close to a combat situation as possible", Shoigu said.

"These are very important drills and they are part of routine annual work to develop the armed forces", Dimitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, told reporters Tuesday.

The country´s war games in Eastern Europe previous year, Zapad-2017, saw 12,700 troops take part according to Moscow. "There is also an element of theatre in this exercise".

The drills, however, allow Russian Federation to practice mobilizing and effectively transporting a large number of forces.

Asked if the U.S.is anxious about a possible military alliance between Russian Federation and China, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Pentagon reporters Tuesday that, "I think that nations act out of their interests".

The drills kicked off close to Russia's border with China on Tuesday and will run through Saturday.

"The key question is not whether Russian Federation will launch a war against NATO", Watling wrote, "but where Russian Federation - and China for that matter - aim to use their burgeoning capacity for expeditionary logistics and combined operations to project power".

Other reports by GizPress

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