Russian Federation includes China in biggest war games in decades

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday (Sep 11) said that Moscow and Beijing plan to use their own national currencies more often in trade deals as Russia's relations with the West deteriorate.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has denounced the exercises as a rehearsal for a "large-scale military conflict".

Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said the shift away from anti-terrorism drills to more conventional war games could pave the way for greater cooperation between China and Russian Federation.

He said: "It fits into a pattern we have seen over time - a more assertive Russian Federation, increasing its defence budget and military presence".

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is expected to attend the exercises after hosting an economic forum in Vladivostok where his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, is a guest.

Russian Federation kicked off the biggest war games in its history yesterday, mobilising 300,000 troops joined by more than 3,000 Chinese soldiers in a show of military might meant to counter what it called the "aggressive and unfriendly" attitudes towards it.

More than 25 warships and around 30 planes took part in the drills, as Russian Federation increased its military presence in Syria where it intervened to help the Bashar al-Assad regime in 2015. "If Russia had not invited China, that would have been viewed by Beijing as a potentially unsafe activity by Russia".

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Russian Federation will showcase some of its latest military hardware at Vostok-2018, including nuclear-capable Iskander missiles T-90 tanks and Su-35 fighter jets.

- Vostok-2018 it includes 297,000 servicemen.

Giles agreed that, if Vostok-2018 is as large as has been announced, it will be comparable in scale with the mammoth 1981 Zapad exercise. They involve almost 300,000 Russian troops along with 1,000 Russian aircraft and 36,000 tanks and other combat vehicles.

He added: "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".

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

"Russia has very strong real combat abilities and the participation of the [People's Liberation Army] in such a large-scale military exercise ... indicates China's intention to learn more valuable combat practices and lift its ability for joint combat", Mr Song said.

In 2017, Russian Federation conducted series of military drills in its western regions, in collaboration with Belarus.

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