War games comprising more than 1,000 aircraft and 300,000 personnel will mark Russia’s biggest military simulation since the Cold War.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said next month’s Vostok-2018 drills were justified given “aggressive and unfriendly” attitudes towards his country in recent times, the BBC reports.
This year’s simulation marks a significant increase in size and scope from last year’s Zapad-2017 – that joint exercise with Belarus only included 12,700 troops. This year’s drills will include 36,000 tanks, armoured personnel carriers and armoured infantry vehicles.
Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu told state media on Tuesday that the nation had not held comparable military simulations since 1981.
“Just imagine that 36,000 pieces of military hardware are simultaneously in motion: these are tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles and all this is, naturally, checked in conditions close to a combat environment,” he said.
As of January, the Russian Armed Forces boasted 1,902,758 personnel, which included 1,013,628 servicemen. Vostok-2018 will deploy forces from Russia’s Eastern and Central Military Districts, the forces of the Northern Fleet, as well as all units and formations of the Airborne Force. Units from China and Mongolia will also take part in one of the stages.
The Chinese government confirmed through a statement that more than 3,000 of their troops will take part in the exercises with the aim of deepening military co-operation between the two nations, the BBC reports. The statement also confirmed that the exercises would “not target any third party”. Mongolia’s involvement in the simulation remains unclear.
Nato spokesman Dylan White said the military alliance was briefed on the war games in May and were ready to monitor the simulation closely. “All nations have the right to exercise their armed forces, but it is essential that this is done in a transparent and predictable manner,” he said in a statement.
Vostok-2018 will take place from September 11 to 15.