Vostok War Games 2018 - how anxious should the West be?

Russia stages world’s largest military drills, NATO worried

There are at least 300,000 Russian troops, 36,000 vehicles, and 1,000 aircraft taking part in the Vostok 2018 exercises, the largest Russian war games in decades, CNN reported, citing the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia's military forces in the country's east were on high alert ahead of a five-day "snap inspection" of troops to pave the way for the massive exercised called Vostok-2018. He described as follows the personnel and equipment involved: 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 tanks and armoured vehicles, 1,000 planes and 80 ships.

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

The Vostok 2018 exercise by the Russian military is witnessing its biggest military drill by the country in 37 years.

Named Vostok-2018, the rehearsals aim to check the readiness of the Russian armed forces. It also "signifies that the political strategic trust and military cooperation between China and Russian Federation has reached a historic high".

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Besides their size, the drills have attracted attention because of the participation of Chinese troops, the first time they have been invited by Russian Federation to take part in an exercise of this scale.

Russian officials have said that the war games are not meant as a threat to any particular country but are justified by what Putin's spokesman described on August 28 as a hostile worldwide environment.

Some units of the Chinese and Mongolian army are expected to join the manoeuvres at several stages.

- At least 24 helicopters and six fighter jets belonging to the Chinese air force are taking part in the exercise.

The Chinese claimed the operation was not "directed against any third party" but said it was aimed at focusing on "defences, firepower strikes and counterattack".

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"China's participation is aimed at consolidating and further developing the comprehensive and strategic partnership of coordination between China and Russia", Wu said.

While simulating a great power conflict, experts say the drills do not mean Russian Federation is preparing to fight with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation rather, some say, Moscow is using the war games as a form of aggressive diplomacy, meant to impress and intimidate western countries and to persuade them to be more accommodating of Russia's interest.

China is participating but what type of war is Moscow training for and who is playing the enemy?

No doubt, both Russian Federation and China relish the opportunity of flexing military muscle just as U.S. threats are heating up and tensions are at boiling point over Syria, where both countries have condemned past American and Western military actions targeting the Assad government.

He emphasized that "Russia is a peaceful nation", but noted that the country needs to strengthen its military capability to "be ready to protect its sovereignty, security and national interests, and, if necessary, support our allies".

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