Russia to hold biggest military exercises in years

Russia will next month hold its biggest war games since at least the 1980s, with around 300,000 troops, 36,000 tanks and 1,000 aircraft, amid renewed tensions with NATO and the US. The Vostok-2018 exercises will be carried out from 11 to 15 September in the country's east with the participation of China and Mongolia.

"This will be something of a repeat of Zapad-1981, but in some senses even bigger," Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said, in comments reported by Russian news agencies. Moscow said last year's Zapad-2017 military drills, conducted in ally Belarus and regions of Russia, saw the participation of roughly 12,700 troops. But NATO claimed Russia could have been massively underreporting the scale of those exercises, which some of the alliance's eastern members said involved more than 100,000 servicemen.

"Just imagine that 36,000 pieces of military hardware are simultaneously in motion: these are tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles and all this is, naturally, checked in conditions close to a combat environment,” Shoigu said. “This is coupled with a snap check announced by the Russian president, the supreme commander-in-chief, which has actually become good practice in our life and work. "In some ways, they resemble the [previous] drills but in other ways they are, perhaps, even larger.

Russia has one of the largest militaries in the world, with almost 3.6 million military personnel, 4,000 planes, 20,000 tanks, and 352 warships. It is second only to the US in firepower – and is currently being given a big investment boost by Putin.

Russia has invited military attaches from NATO countries to observe the war games. Shoigu had earlier announced the start of immediate conflict readiness checks in the central and eastern military areas before the planned exercises.





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