Russia to launch biggest war games in history: 300,000 troops to participate

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Representational Image
Representational Image

New Delhi : Russia will launch the biggest military drills in its history on 11 September 2018. The biggest war game will involve 300,000 troops, in a move North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) denounced as "exercising large-scale conflict". Dubbed as "Vostok-2018", the drill will include soldiers from China and Mongolia.

It comes at a time of increasing tensions between Moscow and the West over accusations of Russian interference in western affairs and the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria

The Russian army has compared the show of force to the USSR's 1981 war games that saw between 100,000 and 150,000 Warsaw Pact soldiers take part in "Zapad-81" (West-81), the largest military exercises of the Soviet era.

However, defence minister Sergei Shoigu said this time would be even larger than before. Almost 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 military vehicles, 1,000 planes and 80 warships would be taking part in the drills. "Imagine 36,000 military vehicles moving at the same time: tanks, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles  and all of this, of course, in conditions as close to a combat situation as possible," Shoigu said.

The Russian army will unfold all of its latest additions for the event. Iskander missiles can carry nuclear warheads, T-80 and T-90 tanks and its recent Su-34 and Su-35 fighter planes. At sea, the Russian fleet will deploy several frigates equipped with Kalibr missiles that have been used in Syria.

In Vostok-2014, Russia's previous military exercise almost half the size, with 155,000 soldiers participated

The country'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.

President Vladimir Putin may attend Vostok-2018 after hosting an economic forum in Russia's far eastern city Vladivostok, where his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping is one of the guests.

Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said the games were a "preparation for a future world war." He said: "The army's general staff believes this will take place after 2020 in the form of either a global war or a series of conflicts with magnitude... The enemy is the United States and its allies."

Earlier, in this month, Russia held military exercises in the Mediterranean. More than 25 warships and around 30 planes took part in the drills, as Russia increased its military presence in Syria where it intervened to help the Bashar al-Assad regime in 2015. Around 2,200 Ukrainian, American and other NATO soldiers took part in military exercises in western Ukraine in early September.