Russian Federation includes China in biggest war games in decades

Lamar Ellis
September 13, 2018

China's participation in Vostok 2018, Russia's largest military exercise for 37 years, will enhance the counter-attacking capabilities of its armed forces and reinforce ties with its northern neighbour, Beijing said on Tuesday, amid rising tensions with the United States.

The defence ministry released video footage of military vehicles, planes, helicopters and ships getting into position for the initial stage of the drills.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia September 11, 2018.

Tensions have been heightened between Russian Federation and the West in the wake of ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria and the Novichok attack in Salisbury.

Moscow said the weeklong Vostok (East) 2018 maneuvers will span vast expanses of Siberia and the Far East, the Arctic and the Pacific Oceans and involve almost 300,000 Russian troops - almost one-third of the country's 1-million-strong military. But defence minister Sergei Shoigu said this time would be even larger, with 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 military vehicles, 1,000 planes and 80 warships taking part in the drills.

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".

Wednesday will see games featuring anti-aircraft technology, while the main event will be on Thursday, the defense ministry told journalists covering the games.

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Russian Federation showcased its most sophisticated air defence system on Wednesday, using it to repel a mock attack from the sky as part of what it describes as its largest-ever military drills.

Putin said Moscow has a "trusting relationship" with Beijing "in politics, security, and defense".

He said China feels Washington's hostile attitude and actions, such as deploying the THAAD missile defence system in South Korea, relieve it of any need to take U.S. views into consideration when deepening strategic trust with Moscow.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov last month said Russia's "ability to defend itself in the current global situation is justified, essential and without alternative".

Relations between Russian Federation and the West have been severely strained by Moscow's actions in Ukraine and Syria and its alleged interference in elections in the United States and European countries. At the same time, the Kremlin has accused North Atlantic Treaty Organisation of expanding westwards and threatening Russian national security.

Part of Russia's response has been to increase the number of large-scale military exercises across the globe in an apparent bid to project power and ward off perceived Western aggression.

The war games are held a year after Russian Federation staged major drills in the country's west last September, unnerving neighbouring former Soviet republics.

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