Russia kicks off largest-ever war games with China and Mongolia
12 September 2018
Russia on Tuesday kicked off its largest-ever military exercise, mobilising hundreds of thousands of troops and thousands of armoured vehicles and fighter jets, in the Siberian and the Far Eastern regions of Russia.
The military exercise, dubbed `Vostok-2018’ (East-2018), participating China and Mongolia in a diplomatic pivot to the east, has, however, been dubbed as a ‘rehearsal for large-scale conflict’ by NATO.
China and Mongolia are sending several thousands of their troops to participate in some of the week-long military exercises.
Moscow has invited Chinese president Xi Jinping as one of its prominent guests, news agency AFP reported.
The Russian defence ministry released video footage showing the movement of 3,00,000 soldiers, 3,600 military vehicles, 80 ships and 1,000 aircraft besides helicopters and drones.
Close to 3,500 Chinese troops would be participating in the military games, which prompted President Putin to comment, the "friendship is getting stronger all the time."
Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said all military exercise are being conducted in conditions as close to a combat situation as possible.
An AFP report said the Russian Army has mobilised some of its most modern platforms such as the Islander missiles that can carry nuclear warheads, T-90 tanks and Sukhoi-34 and 35 fighter jets. While Wednesday will witness the anti-aircraft technology, Thursday is slated to be the most important day during the exercise.
"The main objectives of the maneuvers are: to check readiness of command and control bodies when planning and regrouping troops, cooperation of ground forces and the Navy, improve skills of commanders and staff in command and control when preparing and conducting combat actions," Russia's defense ministry said.
NATO is watching the war games clearly as the Russians have been investing in some fairly sophisticated and troublesome systems,. They have also been looking at the growing access to the Arctic and developing submarines.
Also, since Russia has an experienced military that understands expeditionary operations the joint operations with China and Mongolia assumes significance.
However, the war games come at a time of economic recovery rather than robust growth for Russia. Despite a recovery in the oil price, which has been vital for the major oil-exporter, the country is still operating under economic sanctions over its annexation of Crimea in 2014.