Vostok-2018: China joins Russian Federation in biggest ever war games

Vostok-2018: China joins Russian Federation in biggest ever war games

The demonstration of military might will include some joint exercises with the Chinese army.

In the strategic drills, the PLA and Russian armed forces have formed a joint operational commanding system, under which military forces from the two countries will hold joint exercises including mechanized defense,fire strike and counter-attack training.

But Russia's defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said these exercises were even larger. "I see little in the long-term that aligns Russian Federation and China", Mattis told reporters in Washington.

Shoigu has said they are the biggest since a Soviet military exercise, Zapad-81 (West-81) in 1981.

The Russian strongman praised the Kremlin's increasingly close ties with China as he met with Xi at the economic forum in Vladivostok on Tuesday.

"They feel they need to embrace to deal with the increasingly high pressure and containment from the United States", said military expert and retired Chinese army colonel Yue Gang.

Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said the games were a "preparation for a future world war".

"We have a trusting relationship [with China] in the spheres of politics, security, and defense", Putin said at the start of his meeting with Xi.

Some 3,500 Chinese troops will take part in the games.

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Some noted the People's Liberation Army, which hasn't fought a war since the attempted invasion of Vietnam in 1979, is keen to learn from Russia's experience in the Syrian campaign, where it tested its latest weapons and tactics.

From China's perspective, the emerging military alliance with Russian Federation sends a strong signal to the USA and its ally Japan as Beijing moves to defend its interests in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety, as well as Taiwan and the Senkaku and Diaoyu islands controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing.

Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military commentator, said Beijing, which regards the defence of its sovereignty over most of the South China Sea and the self-ruled island of Taiwan as core interests, needed to strengthen its capabilities in preparation for possible real-life military conflicts.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the drills were taking place in light of the "aggressive and unfriendly" attitudes toward Russian Federation, according to the BBC. "They demonstrate the seriousness of our intentions".

China and Russian Federation have staged joint drills before but not on such a large scale, and the Vostok-2018 (East-2018) exercise signals closer military ties as well as sending an unspoken reminder to Beijing that Moscow is able and ready to defend its sparsely populated far east.

Considering Russia's recent behaviour, Europe and the USA could be forced into a position where war becomes inevitable, he said. "We're aware of Russia's right to sovereignty and to exercise in order to ensure their readiness".

"China, by sending a PLA element to train with the Russians, is signalling that U.S. pressure is pushing it towards much closer military cooperation with Moscow".

NATO Spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said that the training "fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: a more assertive Russian Federation, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence".

Vladimir Isachenkov reported from Moscow.

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