Russian Federation begins its largest ever military exercise with 300,000 soldiers

Russian Federation begins its largest ever military exercise with 300,000 soldiers

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.

Maintaining Russia's defence capabilities is "justified as rival powers are frequently quite aggressive and unfriendly", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in August in comments carried by state news agency, TASS.

The week-long war games dubbed "Vostok-2018" (East-2018), "have kicked off" in far eastern Russian Federation and on the Pacific Ocean, the defense ministry said in a statement.

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

By chance or design, the exercise - which is to involve more than 1,000 military aircraft, two Russian naval fleets and all Russian airborne units - is taking place while Russian President Vladimir Putin holds talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in the Russian port city of Vladivostok.

The maneuvers, the largest war games Russian Federation ever has had, showcase burgeoning military ties between Moscow and Beijing amid their tensions with the U.S.

At a news conference after their talks, Xi also touted the relationship between Russian Federation and China, which has a far larger population and an economy several times the size of Russia's.

Russia's Defence Ministry boasted on Monday that the drill will be the largest since Zapad-81, when the USSR held war games involving around 150,000 troops.

Warships equipped with Kalibr missiles, which have been deployed in Syria, will also play their part in the drill as forces are tested in real combat conditions.

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

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 Vostok-2018 and would monitor it.

"The [Vostok 2018] exercise sends a signal to Washington and its allies - if U.S. continues to push [Russia and China], they will have to deepen military ties", he said. Inset: an Iskander missile in launch position.

Xi, whose country is locked in a tense confrontation with the United States over trade and tariffs, said that Russian Federation and China should work together to oppose protectionism and what he called unilateral approaches to global problems.

Given the declining and increasingly acrimonious state of relations since Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, Putin "wishes to be as best prepared as possible to prevail in open warfare as well", Giles added.

Since then Moscow has increased the number of its large-scale military exercises in the Caucasus, the Baltic and the Arctic.

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

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.

Russian Federation said only 12,700 troops took part, but the Baltic States said the true number was far bigger.

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