Russia and China to conduct regular war games together, minister says

A boy looks through the gun sight of a bazooka next to military men at a weapon exhibition during the celebrations of 'Tank's Day' in Sertolovo town outside Saint Petersburg

A boy looks through the gun sight of a bazooka next to military men at a weapon exhibition during the celebrations of 'Tank's Day' in Sertolovo town outside Saint Petersburg

The Department of Defence said Monday that it is closely watching the ongoing drills - the largest Russian war games in decades.

China was sending 3,200 troops to take part in "Vostok-2018", with many Chinese armoured vehicles and aircraft.

China's participation in Vostok 2018, Russia's largest military exercise for 37 years, will enhance the counter-attacking capabilities of its armed forces and reinforce ties with its northern neighbour, Beijing said on Tuesday, amid rising tensions with the United States.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said Monday that the USA respects Russian Federation and China's decision to hold military exercises, something the U.S. also does with its allies and global partners.

At a news conference after their talks, Xi also touted the relationship between Russian Federation and China, which has a far larger population and an economy several times the size of Russia's.

In response to the impending Vostok-18 games Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon announced late last month, "We urge Russian Federation to take steps to share information regarding its exercises and operations in Europe to clearly convey its intentions and minimize and potential misunderstanding".

From planes, radars and ships in the Baltics, NATO officials say they are watching Russia's biggest war games since 2013 with "calm and confidence", but many are unnerved about what they see as Moscow testing its ability to wage war against the West.

The weeklong exercises reprise massive Soviet war games that took place at the height of the Cold War.

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Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is expected to attend the exercises after hosting an economic forum in Vladivostok where his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, is a guest.

Multiple Russian divisions, including the Pacific and northern fleets, are participating in the Vostok 2018 war games from September 11-17.

The military exercises come at a time of escalating tensions between Moscow and the West over accusations of Russian interference in western affairs and conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

The main aim was to check the military's readiness to move troops large distances and test how closely infantry and naval forces cooperated.

China and Russian Federation have been showcasing their military partnership, in addition to political and economic ties.

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

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the drills were justified given "aggressive and unfriendly" attitudes toward Russian Federation by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation block.

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