Russian Federation holds biggest military drills since Soviet era

Russia, China Start Biggest Military Drill Since Cold War

The Russian military has compared the show of force to the USSR's 1981 war games, in which as many as 150,000 Warsaw Pact soldiers took part in "Zapad-81" (West-81).

As the maneuvers kicked off, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russian Federation on Tuesday to attend an economic forum in Vladivostok.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has described the drills as even bigger than the country's largest Cold War-era exercise called Zapad 1981 that put North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies on edge. Thirty-six thousand tanks, 80 ships, and nearly 1,000 aircraft are also taking part, according to the ministry.

The Chinese media described the country's involvement as its largest-ever dispatch of forces overseas for war games.

China's presence is being seen as a signal from both countries emphasizing their cooperation at a moment when Moscow and Beijing find themselves in a confrontation with the United States.

They also serve as an exercise in "military muscle-flexing" to Russia's global rivals.

The demonstration of military might will include some joint exercises with the Chinese army.

When asked if he was concerned about a potential military alliance between Russian Federation and China in the future, U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said he did not see the two countries aligned in the long-term.

The latter comprise six Mi-171s, which were bought from Russian Federation in 2014 and are making their first appearance in such an exercise, nine Z-9s and nine Z-19s.

"The focus of the drill has expanded from anti-terrorism to allied defence and counter-attack", China's defence ministry said in a statement.

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"China, by sending a PLA element to train with the Russians, is signalling that USA pressure is pushing it towards much closer military cooperation with Moscow".

Russian Federation on Tuesday launched its largest military exercise at the Tsugol training range in Russia's Trans-Baikal region in eastern Siberia.

In this photo taken from video provided by the Russian Defence Ministry Press Service on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, tanks roll during the military exercises in the Chita region, Eastern Siberia, during the Vostok 2018 exercises.

The country┬┤s war games in Eastern Europe previous year, Zapad-2017, saw 12,700 troops take part according to Moscow.

"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.

The week-long war games dubbed "Vostok-2018" (East-2018), "have kicked off" in far eastern Russian Federation and on the Pacific Ocean, the defense ministry said in a statement.

It involved deploying additional forces to Russia's far east and a naval build-up involving its Northern and Pacific fleets.

For Russia, the increasingly robust alliance with China is particularly important amid the growing tensions with the US and its allies and a looming threat of more biting USA sanctions.

Moscow said the weeklong Vostok (East) 2018 maneuvers will span vast expanses of Siberia and the Far East, the Arctic and the Pacific Oceans and involve almost 300,000 Russian troops - almost one-third of the country's 1-million-strong military.

This week, Russian Federation held military exercises in the Mediterranean.

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