Russia Says Joint War Games with China Will Be Routine

Russia Says Joint War Games with China Will Be Routine

About 300,000 Russian troops, 1,000 aircraft and 36,000 military vehicles are taking part in the exercise, which is the biggest in the country since Zapad-81 at the height of the cold war.

It comes at a time of escalating tensions between Moscow and the West over accusations of Russian interference in western affairs and the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

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

- Russian air force's S-300 and S-400 missile systems have been deployed at Vostok 2018 drills.

Sergei Shoigu spoke as he and his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Wei Fenghe, visited the Tsugol firing range in eastern Siberia, where Russian and Chinese troops will hold joint drills later this week.

"The [Vostok 2018] exercise sends a signal to Washington and its allies - if U.S. continues to push [Russia and China], they will have to deepen military ties", he said.

He said that an increasingly unpredictable geopolitical climate made partnership between Russian Federation and China particularly important.

Xi said the two countries' friendship was "getting stronger all the time".

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China is sending 3,200 troops to take part in the Vostok 2018 exercises later this week.

Russian Federation has started its biggest "war games" since the end of the Soviet Union, which are said to involve nearly 300,000 troops, more than 1,000 aircraft, 36,000 tanks and military vehicles, and dozens of warships.

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.

"These are very important drills but they are part of routine annual work to develop the armed forces", he told reporters Tuesday.

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.

"Imagine 36,000 military vehicles moving at the same time: tanks, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles - and all of this, of course, in conditions as close to a combat situation as possible", Shoigu said.

In 2017, Russian Federation conducted series of military drills in its western regions, in collaboration with Belarus.

Russian Federation has substantially increased the size and frequency of its military exercises in recent years, particularly following its invasion of Crimea in 2014.

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