Russia kicks off biggest war games in decades, amid tensions

Pauline Gross
September 14, 2018

"China, by sending a PLA [People's Liberation Army] element to train with the Russians, is signaling that United States pressure is pushing it towards much closer military cooperation with Moscow". He said Moscow is interested in seeing how Beijing military has evolved through modern times given that the country has not fought since 1979.

The Turkish Army today announced its participation as an observer in the military maneuvers being carried out by Russian Federation and China in Siberia, after being officially invited by Moscow.

"This is a milestone for Sino-Russian military ties", Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, wrote on Twitter. The exercise surpasses even the biggest Soviet manoeuvres in 1981. He was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that the drills are "also a response to the US sanctions".

The Vostok military exercises are held every 4 years. 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. "It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time - a more assertive Russian Federation, significantly increasing its defence budget and its military presence", North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesperson Dylan White was quoted by news agency AFP.

It is noted that the exercises will be held under the leadership of defense Minister Shoigu Serge from 11 to 17 September in the far East of Russian Federation and in the neighboring waters of the Pacific ocean.

The Kremlin has insisted the exercises are routine and purely defensive.

But Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed such concerns.

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In total it's expected that 300,000 troops and close to 40,000 vehicles will participate in Vostok, which is to coincide with talks between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in Vladivostok on Tuesday.

"In some ways (Vostok-2018) will repeat aspects of Zapad-81, but in other ways the scale will be bigger", Shoigu said.

"It is important not to exaggerate the significance of the Vostock 2018 drills", Watling wrote.

Mikhail Barabanov, editor-in-chief of the Moscow Defense Brief, believed Vostok 2018 is an opportunity for both Russian Federation and China to assess each other's military preparedness.

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

Some experts see the war games as a message to Washington from Moscow and Beijing.

"The focus of the drill has expanded from anti-terrorism to allied defense and counterattack", a China defense ministry statement said.

Other reports by GizPress

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