Russian Federation has begun massive military exercises across its central and eastern regions, starting weeklong war games the Defense Ministry says will involve some 300,000 personnel - twice as many as the biggest Soviet maneuvers of the Cold War era.
Vostock includes many smaller scale exercises that happen every year and obsolete equipment has also been put into use, apparently to inflate the war games size, Jack Watling, an expert at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), wrote in an article this month.
The exercise kicked off on Tuesday along with a bilateral meeting between Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Chinese and Mongolian troops are taking part, amid ongoing Kremlin efforts to pursue closer ties with Beijing and other Asian capitals.
"We have trustworthy ties in political, security and defense spheres", said Putin, who also posed for a photo op with his Chinese counterpart to cook up traditional blini pancakes.
Russian Federation has substantially increased the size and frequency of its military exercises in recent years, particularly following its invasion of Crimea in 2014.
Giles agreed that, if Vostok-2018 is as large as has been announced, it will be comparable in scale with the mammoth 1981 Zapad exercise.
Asked if the U.S.is anxious about a possible military alliance between Russian Federation and China, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Pentagon reporters Tuesday that, "I think that nations act out of their interests".
"Fundamentally, the goal of this specific exercise is to project Russian military power in the Asia-Pacific region", Kokcharov said.
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From China's perspective, the emerging military alliance with Russian Federation sends a strong signal to the U.S. and its ally Japan as Beijing moves to defend its interests in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety, as well as Taiwan and the Senkaku and Diaoyu islands controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing.
Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said the games were a "preparation for a future world war".
Xi said the two countries' friendship was "getting stronger all the time". "These are very important drills but they are part of routine annual work to develop the armed forces", he said.
Given the declining and increasingly acrimonious state of relations since Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, Putin "wishes to be as best prepared as possible to prevail in open warfare as well", Giles added.
The war games demonstrate "Russia's focus on exercising large-scale conflict", North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesman Dylan White said in late August, stating that the Western alliance had been briefed about Vostok-2018 and would monitor it.
The bulk of the troops taking part in the five-day drills in eastern Russia near the Chinese border are Russian: 300,000 vs. about 3,200 from China.
But defence minister Sergei Shoigu said this time would be even larger, with 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 military vehicles, 1,000 planes and 80 warships taking part in the drills.
The drills are being held in Russia's Eastern and Central military districts, which encompass more than half of the country's territory.