Published: Thu, September 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Russian Federation carries out biggest war games since cold war

Russian Federation carries out biggest war games since cold war

Shoigu said that about 300,000 military personnel would take part, twice as many as the largest war games conducted by the Soviet Union: the Zapad-81 exercises in 1981.

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.

- Up to 80 naval vessels and support ships from two Russian fleets will take part in the war drill, reports said.

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. Mongolia also has sent a military contingent. The start of Vostok-2018 coincided with a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. Putin is expected to visit the war games later this week.

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

Russian officials have said that the war games are not meant as a threat to any particular country but are justified by what Putin's spokesman described on August 28 as a hostile worldwide environment.

The most intense exercises will be held in the Tsugol range, about 90 miles from the Chinese and Mongolian borders.

Now, though, experts say the target audience of the drills is unambiguously not China, but the USA and Europe instead.

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

"It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time - a more assertive Russian Federation, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence", the alliance's spokesman Dylan White said late August.

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The Kremlin has insisted the exercises are routine and purely defensive.

The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, dismissed such concerns on Tuesday.

Russian Federation is preparing to hold its largest military drills in nearly 40 years beginning Tuesday in eastern Siberia.

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

Most experts say the figure of 300,000 is likely an exaggeration with not all of those actually taking part in the field exercises. "There is also an element of theatre in this exercise".

The latter comprise six Mi-171s, which were bought from Russian Federation in 2014 and are making their first appearance in such an exercise, nine Z-9s and nine Z-19s.

Forces from 10 member nations are taking part in the drills amid an ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed separatists.

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 Vostk-2018 and would monitor it.

"I see little in the long term that aligns Russian Federation and China", he said.

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