Russian Federation includes China in biggest war games in decades

A Russian tank goes through its paces. The Vostok 2018 war games start on Tuesday

A Russian tank goes through its paces. The Vostok 2018 war games start on Tuesday

A retired Russian general said that the giant war games come as a warning to the US against ramping up pressure on Russia.

"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".

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. According to reports, Chinese soldiers are also taking part in the war exercise for the first time.

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

Russia's largest war games in recent history have kicked off in the Far East.

He said the drills are the largest since 1981, when the USSR was still in a Cold War with the United States.

He said that an increasingly unpredictable geopolitical climate made partnership between Russian Federation and China particularly important.

But Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said these exercises are even larger, with 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 military vehicles, 1,000 planes and 80 warships taking part in the drills.

"Fundamentally, the goal of this specific exercise is to project Russian military power in the Asia-Pacific region", Kokcharov said.

From China's perspective, the emerging military alliance with Russian Federation sends a strong signal to the US and its ally Japan as Beijing moves to defend its interests in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety, as well as Taiwan and the Senkaku and Diaoyu islands controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing.

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

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

Given the declining and increasingly acrimonious state of relations since Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, Putin "wishes to be as best prepared as possible to prevail in open warfare as well", Giles added.

China's participation in the exercises, known as the Vostok drills, exemplifies an overall expansion of collaboration with Russian Federation as an ally, the Kremlin has said.

The Kremlin has poured scorn on complaints Vostok-2018 is a cause for concern among North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members and Western nations more broadly.

He said it would involve more than 1,000 warplanes, helicopters, and drones; up to 80 combat and logistics ships; and up to 36,000 tanks, armored personnel carriers, and other vehicles.

In 2017, Russian Federation conducted series of military drills in its western regions, in collaboration with Belarus.

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