The Russian military is on the move.
The country will hold its largest war games in nearly 40 years as it pairs with Chinese and Mongolian forces.
The gigantic military showing was announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and will be conducted amid heightened tensions in the international community concerning Russia.
The exercise, called Vostok-2018 (East-2018), will take place in central and eastern Russian military districts and involve almost 300,000 troops, over 1,000 military aircraft, two of Russia’s naval fleets, and all its airborne units, Shoigu said in a statement.
The maneuvers will take place at a time of heightened tension between the West and Russia, which is concerned about what it says is an unjustified build-up of the NATO military alliance on its western flank.
The war games, which will take place from Sept. 11-15, are likely to displease Japan which has already complained about what it says is a Russian military build-up in the Far East.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is due to attend a forum in Vladivostok over the same period, and a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said on Tuesday Tokyo always paid attention to shifts in Russian-Chinese military cooperation.
BBC reports 36,000 armored vehicles will also join the exercise bringing the total of military personnel involved to over 1 million.
The defense minister compared the upcoming September military exercise to one Soviet forces conducted in 1981, called Zapad-81 (West-81).
“In some ways, they will repeat aspects of Zapad-81, but in other ways, the scale will be bigger,” Shoigu said, as Reuters reports.
Shoigu continued, via Daily Mail: “More than 1,000 aircraft, almost 300,000 troops and almost all the ranges of the Central and Eastern military districts” would be involved.
“Imagine 36,000 pieces of military equipment moving together at the same time – tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles. And all of this, of course, in conditions as close to combat as possible.”
Here’s more, from Daily Mail:
The Russian military has increased both the scope and frequency of its maneuvers amid tensions with the West. It also has expanded military ties with China.
Moscow and Beijing have conducted a series of joint military maneuvers, including exercises in the South China Sea and navy drills in the Baltics last summer.
The two countries have forged what they described as a ‘strategic partnership,’ expressing their shared opposition to the ‘unipolar’ world – the term they use to describe perceived U.S. global domination.
In September, China is due to send 3,200 elite troops from the Northern Theatre Command as well as 30 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters to the war games event.
According to the report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov justified the war games showing as “essential.”
“The country’s ability to defend itself in the current international situation, which is often aggressive and unfriendly towards our country, means (the exercise) is justified and essential,” Peskov said.
NATO was made known of the planned military exercise back in May.
“All nations have the right to exercise their armed forces, but it is essential that this is done in a transparent and predictable manner,” NATO spokesman Dylan White said per Daily Mail.
“Vostok demonstrates Russia’s focus on exercising large-scale conflict. It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defence budget and its military presence.”