Russian Federation holding largest war games in its history


"The fact that the drill is vastly greater in size than previous exercises in the same location is also part of the natural progression of Russia's practice for war", Giles said.

The location of the exercises close to Japan, North and South Korea and China suggest that Russian Federation is keen to increase its influence in the region, and Mr Putin himself underlined this message with a visit to Vladivostok this week to meet with Chinese opposite number Xi Jinping.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has described the drills as even bigger than the country's largest Cold War-era exercise called Zapad 1981 that put North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies on edge.

Some of the first exercises will revolve around anti-aircraft technology, according to Russia's defence ministry.

About 3,200 Chinese troops, more than 900 pieces of weaponry and 30 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters will participate in joint training to conduct fire strike and counterattacks, the Chinese Defense Ministry said.

China's presence is being seen as a signal from both countries emphasizing their cooperation at a moment when Moscow and Beijing find themselves in a confrontation with the United States.

Russian Federation has substantially increased the size and frequency of its military exercises in recent years, particularly following its invasion of Crimea in 2014.

While both Russian Federation and China have said the manoeuvres are not directed against other countries they do coincide with Nato's Rapid Trident 2018 military exercise in Ukraine, which started on September 3 and ends on Saturday.

Xi said the two countries' friendship was "getting stronger all the time".

Joint military drills are not uncommon but are rarely seen on such a large scale.

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Russia's military chief of staff says that the military exercises expected to be the biggest in three decades, will involve almost 300,000 troops.

"This is a milestone for Sino-Russian military ties", Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, wrote on Twitter.

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

Russian military helicopters fly overhead in Chita, Eastern Siberia, during the Vostok 2018 exercises, September 11, 2018.

- Vostok-2018 it includes 297,000 servicemen.

Whereas during the drills on its western borders last year, known as Zapad 2017, Russian Federation was accused of downplaying the number of troops involved, this year's war games are the opposite, with Moscow apparently eager to flaunt their scale.

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

Amid growing recent tensions between Moscow and the West, NATO has said it will monitor the drills closely.

He added: "Russia also thinks that the worldwide reactions to its appalling behaviour over recent years - including the seizure of Crimea, aggression against Ukraine, causing and abetting untold suffering in Syria, the attempted murder of the Skripals and more - are just more indications of this "aggressive and unfriendly" attitude by the rest of the world".

The main aim was to check the military's readiness to move troops large distances, to test how closely infantry and naval forces cooperated, and to flawless command and control procedures.