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.
In addition to mobilizing 300,000 Russian troops, the exercise includes 1,000 aircraft and 36,000 military vehicles, South China Morning Post reported, which is the biggest show of force since Zapad-81 drills at the height of the Cold War. China's military said it has sent 3,200 soldiers, as well as 900 tanks and armor vehicles.
But according to Keir Giles, a Russian military expert at the UK-based Chatham House think-tank, the overall aim of the drill is to "prepare Russia for armed conflict with the West". President Vladimir Putin treated Xi to pancakes with caviar and shots of vodka in a show of their warm rapport.
"Russia has very strong real combat abilities and the participation of the PLA in such a large-scale military exercise that is specially tailored for an anti-invasion war indicates China's intention to learn more valuable combat practices and lift its ability for joint combat", Song said.
Russian Federation has started its biggest "war games" since the end of the Soviet Union, which are said to involve nearly 300,000 troops, more than 1,000 aircraft, 36,000 tanks and military vehicles, and dozens of warships.
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.
"Imagine 36,000 military vehicles moving at the same time: tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles - and all of this, of course, in conditions as close to a combat situation as possible", Shoigu said, according to Agence France-Presse. The drills are underway at five military training grounds in Russia's Far East region, and in the waters of the East Sea, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk.
Last month, the Kremlin´s spokesman 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".
"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.
"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. 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.
Moscow has increased the number of its large-scale military exercises in the Caucasus, the Baltic and the Arctic in recent years.
The Kremlin has also accused North Atlantic Treaty Organisation of expanding westwards and threatening Russian national security. Ukraine and the Baltic states said the true number was far bigger.