Russian Federation carries out biggest war games since cold war

Clay Curtis
September 13, 2018

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.

Xi Jinping, left, met Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesman Dylan White said the war games revealed "a more assertive Russia" which is "significantly increasing its defence budget and military presence".

Russia's biggest-ever war games Vostok-2018 "have kicked off" in far eastern Russian Federation. That alone would be enough to make headlines, but another twist has cinched it: China is taking part in the war games as well-the first time Russian Federation has invited any country beyond its former Soviet satellites, notes the Wall Street Journal.

Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said the games were a "preparation for a future world war".

China's presence is being seen as a signal from both countries emphasizing their cooperation at a moment when Moscow and Beijing find themselves in a confrontation with the United States. "It's not just about a sign or a message, but about a preparation for a real-life war of great magnitude", he said.

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

"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.

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Relations between the West and Russia sharply deteriorated after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and a pro-Russian rebellion broke out in eastern Ukraine.

The drills are being held in Russia's Eastern and Central military districts, which encompass more than half of the country's territory.

On September 10, Peskov called Vostok-2018 part of "a regular, routine training process aimed at improving skills and coordination in our armed forces".

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.

Asked if the U.S.is anxious about a possible military alliance between Russian Federation and China, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Pentagon reporters Tuesday that, "I think that nations act out of their interests".

The Vostok 2018 exercise by the Russian military is witnessing its biggest military drill by the country in 37 years.

Last month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov 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".

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