Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Russia, China Start Biggest Military Drill Since Cold War

Russia stages world’s largest military drills, NATO worried Russia launches largest military drill since Cold War
Kenny Thornton | 13 September, 2018, 13:31

The start of the exercises coincided with a bilateral meeting between President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping at a forum in Valdivostok, where they vowed to fight attacks on their economies.

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 Vostok-2018 drills involve around 300,000 troops, more than 1,000 aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles, up to 80 vessels, up to 36,000 tanks, armored personnel carriers, and other vehicles.

Some experts pointed out the U.S. helped spawn closer Russia-China military ties by labelling them strategic competitors.

"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", said the alliance's spokesman Dylan White.

He added he believed the "friendship is getting stronger all the time" between the two countries. A Mongolian unit will also be involved, ...

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

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Alex Kokcharov, a Russia analyst at the London-based risk assessment firm HIS Markit, said that China has never before participated in war games on Russian soil that were not under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

"We have agreed to conduct such exercises on a regular basis", Shoigu said.

- The exercise will be spread across five army training grounds, four airbases and areas in the Sea of Japan, Bering Straits and Sea of Okhotsk.

Russia's latest hardware is being showcased during the war games, including its Iskander missiles that can carry nuclear warheads, the T-80 and T-90 tanks and its new 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.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the drills were justified given "aggressive and unfriendly" attitudes toward Russian Federation by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation block. 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".

"These are very important drills and they are part of routine annual work to develop the armed forces", Dimitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, told reporters Tuesday.

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