Vostok-2018: China joins Russian Federation in biggest ever war games

300K Russian troops to participate in largest military exercises in decades report

300K Russian troops to participate in largest military exercises in decades report

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.

Russian Federation on Tuesday announced the start of the largest war games in its history, mobilizing tens of thousands of troops for the drills that will also see Chinese troops take part, and that has prompted complaints from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that it's "a rehearsal for a major conflict".

Chinese President Xi Jinping will be in Russian Federation this week to meet with President Vladimir Putin at an economic forum in Russia's far eastern city of Vladivostok.

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 drills kicked off close to Russia's border with China on Tuesday and will run through Saturday.

He said China feels Washington's hostile attitude and actions, such as deploying the THAAD missile defence system in South Korea, relieve it of any need to take United States views into consideration when deepening strategic trust with Moscow. According to reports, Chinese soldiers are also taking part in the war exercise for the first time. 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".

Putin, who is armed forces commander-in-chief, is expected to observe the exercises this week alongside Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, who is overseeing them.

"Imagine 36,000 military vehicles moving at the same time: tanks, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles - and all of this, of course, in conditions as close to a combat situation as possible", Shoigu said. 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.

Wednesday will see games featuring anti-aircraft technology, while the main event will be on Thursday, the defense ministry told journalists covering the event in eastern Siberia.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has denounced the exercises as a rehearsal for a "large-scale military conflict".

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

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".

Russian Federation has faced ever harsher sanctions since angering the West and Kiev by annexing Crimea in 2014 and backing separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Since then Moscow has increased the number of its large-scale military exercises in the Caucasus, the Baltic and the Arctic.

Russia´s previous military exercise in the region, Vostok-2014, was nearly half the size, with 155,000 soldiers participating.

The war games are held a year after Russian Federation staged major drills in the country's west last September, unnerving neighbouring former Soviet republics.

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