Vostok 2018 drills involving 300,000 troops kick off in Russian Federation

Moscow's war games in Eastern Europe last year Zapad-2017 saw 12,700 troops take part according to Moscow. Ukraine and the Baltic states said the true number was far bigger

Moscow's war games in Eastern Europe last year Zapad-2017 saw 12,700 troops take part according to Moscow. Ukraine and the Baltic states said the true number was far bigger

Vostok-2018 is taking place at a time of heightened tension between the West and Russian Federation, and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has said it will monitor the exercise closely, as will the United States which has a strong military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

The drills began as Putin hosted China's leader Xi Jinping at an economic forum in Vladivostok.

But Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said these exercises are even larger, with 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 military vehicles, 1,000 planes and 80 warships taking part in the drills.

The last war games in Vostok were in 2014 but were nearly half of the size with 155,000 soldiers taking part.

Russian Federation also staged a major naval exercise in the eastern Mediterranean this month and its jets resumed bombing the Syrian region of Idlib, the last major enclave of rebels fighting its ally President Bashar al-Assad.

The huge week-long exercise, called Vostok 2018, is being held in eastern Siberia, and also includes the Chinese army.

Russia's military chief of staff says that the military exercises expected to be the biggest in three decades, will involve almost 300,000 troops.

For his part, Xi said the two countries' "friendship is getting stronger all the time".

China's official People's Liberation Army Daily said on Wednesday that the drill was aimed at maintaining regional peace, was not aimed at any third party and did not "have anything to do with the regional situation".

When asked if he was concerned about a potential military alliance between Russian Federation and China in the future, U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said he did not see the two countries aligned in the long-term.

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Musk said he had come up with preliminary designs for a supersonic, electric plane that would take off and land vertically. Not long after, it was also reported the company's human resources chief Gaby Toledano won't be returning from leave.

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

Russian military helicopters fly overhead in Chita, Eastern Siberia, during the Vostok 2018 exercises, September 11, 2018.

In this photo taken from video provided by the Russian Defence Ministry Press Service on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, tanks roll during the military exercises in the Chita region, Eastern Siberia, during the Vostok 2018 exercises.

That alone would be enough to make headlines, but another twist has cinched it: China is taking part in the war games as well-the first time Russian Federation has invited any country beyond its former Soviet satellites, notes the Wall Street Journal.

For Russia, the increasingly robust alliance with China is particularly important amid the growing tensions with the US and its allies and a looming threat of more biting USA sanctions.

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.

He added: "Russia also thinks that the global reactions to its appalling behaviour over recent years - including the seizure of Crimea, aggression against Ukraine, causing and abetting untold suffering in Syria, the attempted murder of the Skripals and more - are just more indications of this "aggressive and unfriendly" attitude by the rest of the world".

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

Named Vostok-2018, the rehearsals aim to check the readiness of the Russian armed forces.

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