Russia launches biggest war games in decades involving China

Russia launches biggest war games in decades involving China

Vostok 2018 comes amid increasing tensions between Moscow and the West over Russia's involvement in the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

The exercise simulated a "massive missile attack" by an "unnamed enemy", another military official Sergei Tikhonov said.

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

Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said the shift away from anti-terrorism drills to more conventional war games could pave the way for greater cooperation between China and Russian Federation.

"We have trustworthy ties in political, security and defence spheres", the Russian leader said.

Russian Federation yesterday began its biggest war games since the fall of the Soviet Union close to its border with China, mobilizing 300,000 troops in a show of force that is to include joint exercises with the Chinese army.

Dubbed Vostok-2018, the war games involve hundreds of thousands of troops, armoured vehicles, tanks, drones and warships. "If Russia had not invited China, that would have been viewed by Beijing as a potentially unsafe activity by Russia".

The exercise is meant to test the capability of the Russian military.

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

Relations between Russian Federation and the West declined sharply in 2014 with Moscow's annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of a Kremlin-backed uprising in eastern Ukraine.

The exercises involve Chinese and Mongolian armies and will continue until September 17.

With 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 vehicles, 1,000 aircraft and 80 ships, the Vostok 2018 exercises will be even bigger than the mock battles fought during the Cold War.

The Russian Ministry of Defense yesterday broadcast images of military trucks being transported on trains, columns of tanks, armored vehicles and warships on the move, and combat helicopters and fighter aircraft taking off.

The drills, however, allow Russian Federation to practice mobilizing and effectively transporting a large number of forces.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesperson Dylan White said that the military organization has been briefed about the exercise in May and it would monitor it. "Vostok demonstrates Russia's focus on exercising large-scale conflict".

Last month, the Kremlin's spokesman said Russia's "ability to defend itself in the current worldwide situation which is often aggressive and unfriendly to our country is justified, essential and without alternative".

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