Russia, China Flex Military Might Together

Russian Federation was set to begin its largest military exercise since the Cold War on Tuesday, involving more than 300,000 military personnel, including forces from neighbouring China and Mongolia.

China is also sending over 3,000 troops to take part in Vostok 2018 along with some units from Mongolia.

The war games demonstrate "Russia's focus on exercising large-scale conflict", North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesman Dylan White said in late August, stating that the Western alliance had been briefed about Vostok-2018 and would monitor it.

Russia's military chief of staff says that the military exercises expected to be the biggest in three decades, will involve almost 300,000 troops.

Russia's Ministry of Defence broadcast images on Tuesday of columns of tanks, armoured vehicles and warships on the move, and combat helicopters and fighter aircraft taking off.

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".

Xi, who has been at loggerheads with the United States over trade, said he believed building strong relationships with Russian Federation was vital.

The previous Russian exercise involving a similar scale was in 1981 during the Cold War, but there are more troops in Vostok 2018.

Xi made the comments at a news conference in Vladivostok in Russia's far east after holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of an economic forum.

Watling, an expert at RUSI, said the drills also help Russian Federation and China develop their capacity to make small-scale interventions in hotspots overseas, as Russian Federation already appears to be doing in the Central African Republic, as a means to have more heft on the world's stage.

The last war games in Vostok were in 2014 but were nearly half of the size with 155,000 soldiers taking part.

Vostok is the world's largest military exercise, and is hosted by Russian Federation.

"It will be unprecedented in terms of geographic scope and the strength of command and control centers and forces due to participate", defence minister Shoigu said. "China, by sending a PLA [People's Liberation Army] element to train with the Russians, is signaling that USA pressure is pushing it towards much closer military cooperation with Moscow".

More than a thousand soldiers took part in a hyper-realistic recreation of a theater of war and explosions interrupted the normally tranquil region, one of the few in Russian Federation where the population is predominantly Buddhist.

  • Rogelio Becker