Russian Federation to hold largest war games since 1981

Putin and Shoigu

Putin and Shoigu

The exercise, called Vostok-2018 (East-2018), will be held on September 11-15 and will be the largest event of the troops' combat training.

Paratroops and Northern Fleet naval forces will also take part.

The five-day exercise, starting September 11th, will be Moscow's biggest military maneuver since a Cold War drill in 1981.

About 300,000 troops and more than 1,000 aircraft are set to take part in the Vostok-2018 (East-2018) worldwide strategic drills in Russia in September, Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu told journalists on Tuesday.

Shoigu said those manoeuvres, set for next month, will be the largest since the massive Soviet war games in 1981.

"In some ways they will repeat aspects of Zapad-81, but in other ways the scale will be bigger", Mr Shoigu said.

Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has massively upgraded its military equipment and modernized the armed forces, which have demonstrated their increased strength in operations in Syria in support of President Bashar Assad.

Russian Federation conducted more than 8,000 combat training activities past year, including the "Zapad-2017" joint exercises with Belarus in September, involving around 12,700 soldiers.

The planned drill showed "a more assertive Russian Federation, significantly increasing its defence budget and its military presence", White said.

Russian forces will not be the only ones taking part this time around.

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Units from China and Mongolia will also take part in the exercises at military ranges in central and eastern Russian Federation.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov cited a tense worldwide atmosphere.

Peskov was asked if the expense of the Vostok-18 exercise was necessary at a time when Russia's economy is struggling and demands for more social spending are rising.

"The country's ability to defend itself in the current global situation, which is often aggressive and unfriendly towards our country, means [it] is justified", Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

Russian Federation plans to hold the biggest war games since a Cold War drill in 1981. A number of former Soviet republics have embraced the West. NATO units have forward deployed to the alliance's eastern flank, and Poland has even offered to pay to host a permanent USA military presence.

"China's defence ministry put out a statement talking of deepening military co-operation and "'enhancing both sides' capabilities to jointly respond to various security threats".

It comes at a time of heightened tensions between Russian Federation and the West.

The war games are likely to displease Japan which has already complained about what it says is a Russian military build-up in the Far East.

This week, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesman Dylan White told Reuters that countries have a right to conduct military exercises, "but it is essential that this is done in a transparent and predictable manner".

Russian Federation is "increasing its defense budget and its military presence", White said, adding that these large exercises show that Russian Federation appears to be preparing for large conflicts.

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