MOSCOW, Russia - At its biggest ever war games, Russia has deployed hundreds of thousands of soldiers, several aircraft, tanks, combat vehicles and cruise missiles all coming together for week-long maneuvers known as Vostok 2018.
Dubbed as Russia's biggest-ever war games since 1981, Vostok is being held on the largest scale in almost four decades and has been defended by the country as a major test of military readiness.
This year, Russia is also fulfilling another agenda through the war games - displaying the country's burgeoning military ties with China at a time when both the countries are dealing with problems from the U.S.
Nearly 300,000 Russian troops along with 1,000 Russian planes, helicopters and drones and up to 36,000 tanks, armored personnel carriers and other vehicles, as well as up to 80 ships and other combat vehicles are part of Vostok 2018, which this year, also involves over 3,000 Chinese troops.
The week-long manoeuvres span vast expanses of Siberia and the Far East, the Arctic and the Pacific Oceans and officials in the country have stated that the exercise surpasses even the biggest Soviet maneuvers in 1981.
Officials have also stated that China has sent about 3,200 troops, 900 combat vehicles and 30 aircraft to join the drills at a Siberian firing range.
China's deployment was seen as a sign that the country is shifting towards a full-fledged military alliance with Russia and the emerging military alliance will send a strong signal to U.S. and Japan.
According to Chinese media reports, the People's Liberation Army involvement in the drills is being seen as the country's largest-ever dispatch of forces abroad for war games.
On Thursday, speaking at the Tsugol firing range, which is close to where Russian and Chinese troops are performing joint drills, the Russian President Vladimir Putin lauded the troops for their skills, saying they "demonstrated their capability to deflect potential military threats."
He further added, "Russia is a peaceful nation. We do not and cannot have any aggressive plans" but noted that the country needs to strengthen its military capability to "be ready to protect its sovereignty, security and national interests, and, if necessary, support our allies."
Earlier this week, China’s official People’s Liberation Army Daily said that the drills were aimed at maintaining regional peace, was not aimed at any third party and did not “have anything to do with the regional situation."
It said, “The Chinese officers and soldiers participating in the drills will demonstrate the determination and ability to maintain regional peace and stability with practical actions."