Published: Wed, September 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Russian Federation holds biggest military drills since Soviet era

Russian Federation holds biggest military drills since Soviet era

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

Russian Federation on Tuesday will launch the biggest military drills in its history involving 300,000 troops as well as Chinese soldiers, in a move North Atlantic Treaty Organisation denounced as "exercising large-scale conflict".

The week-long war games - dubbed "Vostok-2018" (East-2018) - "have kicked off" in far eastern Russia, the Russian defense ministry said.

A retired Russian general said that the giant war games come as a warning to the USA against ramping up pressure on Russia.

The bulk of the troops taking part in the five-day drills in eastern Russia near the Chinese border are Russian: 300,000 vs. about 3,200 from China.

"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.

The show of military power includes Russia's Iskander missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads, as well as its Su-34 and Su-35 fighter planes.

They also serve as an exercise in "military muscle-flexing" to Russia's global rivals.

Zapad-81 Soviet war games were the largest exercises ever held back in 1981, with about 100,000 to 150,00 troops participating.

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

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President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend Vostok-2018 after hosting an economic forum in Russia´s far eastern city Vladivostok where his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping is one of the star guests.

But Russia's defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said these exercises were even larger.

"The fact that the last thing Europe and the United States want is any open conflict with Russian Federation is immaterial - it may take two to tango, but it doesn't take two sides to start a war".

According to Felgenhauer, China´s participation - although modest with only 3,200 men - will be a key factor at the drills.

"We have a trusting relationship [with China] in the spheres of politics, security, and defense", Putin said at the start of his meeting with Xi.

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".

"Involved in the exercise will be the Eastern and Central military districts, the Northern Fleet, Airborne Troops, and long-range and military transport aircraft, as well as command centers and forces of China's and Mongolia's armed forces".

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.

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

Some experts pointed out the U.S. helped spawn closer Russia-China military ties by labelling them strategic competitors.

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