Russia begins biggest ever military games

300K Russian troops to participate in largest military exercises in decades report

For his part, Xi said the two countries' "friendship is getting stronger all the time". In July 2018, as part of a newspaper interview, Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu criticized the United States and the US -led military alliance for moving up forces and bases close to the Russian border.

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

The most intense exercises will be held in the Tsugol range, about 90 miles from the Chinese and Mongolian borders.

Now, though, experts say the target audience of the drills is unambiguously not China, but the USA and Europe instead.

Hong Kong-based commentator Song Zhongping said China was anxious to acquire more experience in large-scale operations that might become a factor in a conflict with the U.S. and others over territorial claims in Asia. They also serve as an exercise in "military muscle-flexing" to Russia's global rivals.

"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.

The Russian defense Ministry said that the necessary maneuvers to test the readiness of military control bodies during planning and conducting the regrouping of troops over great distances.

The Kremlin has insisted the exercises are routine and purely defensive.

But Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed such concerns.

Alex Kokcharov, a Russia analyst at the London-based risk assessment firm HIS Markit, said that China has never before participated in war games on Russian soil that were not under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). According to reports, Chinese soldiers are also taking part in the war exercise for the first time.

The participation of the People's liberation Army surprised many experts. "There is also an element of theatre in this exercise".

Giles agreed that, if Vostok-2018 is as large as has been announced, it will be comparable in scale with the mammoth 1981 Zapad exercise.

But Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said this time would be even larger, with 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 military vehicles, 1,000 planes and 80 warships taking part in the drills.

While both Russian Federation and China have said the manoeuvres are not directed against other countries they do coincide with Nato's Rapid Trident 2018 military exercise in Ukraine, which started on September 3 and ends on Saturday.

At the event on Tuesday, Xi said that China and Russian Federation would work together to maintain stability and peace in the world.

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