Russia plans largest military drills since end of Cold War

Russian tanks

Shoigu said that both Russia's Pacific and Northern Fleets would take part, while the Russian Ministry of Defence has said that Chinese and Mongolian military units will also participate.

In one of the stages of the exercises the Russian military will join military units of China and Mongolia.

He said the organisation was considering a Russian offer to allow Nato military attachés based in Moscow to be sent to observe the drills.

China's defense ministry said it was taking part to enhance military coordination with Russian Federation, but said the drills would not target any third party.

"The country's ability to defend itself in the current worldwide situation, which is often aggressive and unfriendly towards our country, means (the exercise) is justified", the official said.

In Russia say that these exercises will be the largest since 1981.

In the exercises, named Vostok-2018 (East-2018), there will be 'more than 1,000 aircraft and about 300,000 soldiers in nearly all the polygons of the Central and Eastern military districts, the fleets of the North and the Pacific, all the airborne forces, ' said Shoigu.

While having a practical goal of testing military skills, drills are also created to show a country's potential opponents how it could behave in a real conflict situation.

Military analysts have suggested that in addition to concerns, Japan could be anxious by the games, given recent complaints from Tokyo over what it says is a Russian military build-up in the Far East nearby the strategically crucial Russian port of Vladivostok.

"Imagine 36 000 pieces of military equipment that move together - the tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles".

However, NATO spokesman Dylan White said Russian Federation had briefed the military alliance in advance and invited military attachés from NATO countries to attend.

It is reported that the exercises "West-81" mentioned by the Minister of defence, was held in September 1981 in Belarus, the Baltic States and Ukraine. Distrust has only increased since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backed pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Russian Federation conducted another large-scale exercise, Zapad-17, or West-17, in September past year.

"All countries have the right to conduct exercises of their armed forces, but it is important that they are implemented transparently and predictably", said white. It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: "a more assertive Russian Federation, significantly increasing its defence budget and its military presence".

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