Russian Federation stages world’s largest military drills, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation anxious

by Abel Hampton September 13, 2018, 3:07
Russian Federation stages world’s largest military drills, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation anxious

"In some ways (Vostok-2018) will repeat aspects of Zapad-81, but in other ways the scale will be bigger", Shoigu said.

Russian Federation began its war games - the largest show of military force since the height of the Cold War almost four decades ago - Tuesday, amid heightened tensions with the United States.

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 prominent guests.

China and Russian Federation have staged joint drills before, but not on such a large scale and the Vostok-2018 (East-2018) exercise signals closer military ties, as well as sending an unspoken reminder to Beijing that Moscow is able and ready to defend its sparsely populated far east.

The Chinese media described the country's involvement as its largest-ever dispatch of forces overseas for war games.

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

Some experts pointed out that the USA helped spawn closer Russia-China military ties by labeling them strategic competitors.

"The [Vostok 2018] exercise sends a signal to Washington and its allies - if USA continues to push [Russia and China], they will have to deepen military ties", he said.

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. Up to 1,000 Russian military aircraft, two naval fleets and all Russia's airborne units are also on show.

The military exercises come at a time of escalating tensions between Moscow and the West over accusations of Russian interference in western affairs and ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

Vostok 2018 is the largest overseas joint military exercise involving Chinese troops since 2012.

Mr Putin, who is armed forces commander-in-chief, is observing the exercises this week alongside Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, who is overseeing them. The exercise will be spread across five army training grounds, four airbases and areas in the Sea of Japan, the Bering Strait and the Sea of Okhotsk.

The Russian army will roll out all of its latest additions for the event: Iskander missiles that can carry nuclear warheads, T-80 and T-90 tanks and its recent Su-34 and Su-35 fighter planes.

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.

While Russia has clarified that the manoeuvres are not directed against other countries; North Atlantic Treaty Organisation said that it will monitor the exercise closely.

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

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

"These are very important drills but they are part of routine annual work to develop the armed forces", he told reporters Tuesday.

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