Russian Federation to Hold Largest Military Exercises in almost 4 Decades

Russia which held war games in Eastern Europe in 2017 has said this year's show of force will be the biggest in its history

Russian Federation began its war games - the largest show of military force since the height of the Cold War almost four decades ago - Tuesday, amid heightened tensions with the United States.

The Chinese military has joined hundreds of thousands Russian troops to take part in the nation's largest ever war games - a powerful show of burgeoning military ties between Moscow and Beijing amid their tensions with the US.

Some of the first exercises will revolve around anti-aircraft technology, according to Russia's defence ministry.

The Chinese media described the country's involvement as its largest-ever dispatch of forces overseas for war games.

A retired Russian general said the giant war games come as a warning to the U.S. against ramping up pressure on Russia.

"In some ways (Vostok-2018) will repeat aspects of Zapad-81, but in other ways the scale will be bigger", Shoigu said.

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

Given the closeness to Alaska, some analysts believe Mr Putin is also seeking to send a message to the United States.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend the games after hosting an economic forum in Russia's far eastern city Vladivostok where his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping is one of the prominent guests.

Xi, whose country is locked in a tense confrontation with the United States over trade and tariffs, said that Russian Federation and China should work together to oppose protectionism and what he called unilateral approaches to worldwide problems.

Joint military drills are not uncommon but are rarely seen on such a large scale.

"China [also] has growing military capabilities and is playing an increasingly significant global role ... it's important for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to engage with China", she said.

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The Vostock exercise itself was originally established by the Soviet Union to prepare for a major war with China.

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

"Russia has very strong real combat abilities and the participation of the PLA in such a large-scale military exercise that is specially tailored for an anti-invasion war indicates China's intention to learn more valuable combat practices and lift its ability for joint combat", Song said.

Russia´s previous military exercise in the region, Vostok-2014, was nearly half the size, with 155,000 soldiers participating.

In this photo provided by the Russian Defence Ministry Press Service on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, a Russian soldier guards an area during the military exercises in the Chita region, Eastern Siberia, during the Vostok 2018 exercises.

The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, dismissed such concerns on Tuesday.

The country´s war games in Eastern Europe a year ago, Zapad-2017, saw 12,700 troops take part according to Moscow.

"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.

Most experts say the figure of 300,000 is likely an exaggeration with not all of those actually taking part in the field exercises.

The wargames - officially known as Vostok-2018 - are the biggest of their type since the height of the Cold War, and will involve about 300,000 troops. "There is also an element of theatre in this exercise".

It involved deploying forces to Russia's far east and building up its Northern and Pacific fleets.

"The key question is not whether Russian Federation will launch a war against NATO", Watling wrote, "but where Russian Federation - and China for that matter - aim to use their burgeoning capacity for expeditionary logistics and combined operations to project power".

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