Russia says joint war games with China will be routine

Russia stages world’s largest military drills, NATO worried

Russia stages world’s largest military drills, NATO worried

Russia's largest war games in recent history have kicked off in the Far East.

The last Russian exercise of similar scale was in 1981, during the cold war, but vostok-2018 involves more troops.

China is sending about 3,200 troops, 900 combat vehicles and 30 aircraft to join the drills at a Siberian firing range, a significant deployment that reflects its shift toward a full-fledged military alliance with Russian Federation.

China's participation in Vostok 2018, Russia's largest military exercise for 37 years, will enhance the counter-attacking capabilities of its armed forces and reinforce ties with its northern neighbour, Beijing said on Tuesday, amid rising tensions with the United States.

The joint drills are to be held for 5 days through Saturday.

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China and Russian Federation have been showcasing their military partnership, in addition to political and economic ties.

The United States is pressing its European allies to get more North Atlantic Treaty Organisation battalions, ships and planes ready for combat, officials say, in a fresh move to shore up NATO's deterrence against any Russian attack.

At the start of the military exercise on Tuesday, Putin said that Russia-China "friendship is getting stronger all the time".

While both Russian Federation and China have said the manoeuvres are not directed against other countries they do coincide with Nato's Rapid Trident 2018 military exercise in Ukraine, which started on September 3 and ends on Saturday.

The exercise - which will involve more than 1,000 military aircraft, two Russian naval fleets, up to 36,000 tanks and armoured vehicles and all Russian airborne units - began as President Vladimir Putin held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Russian port city of Vladivostok.

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- Three brigades of Russian paratroops will play a key role, during drills at the Tsugol military range, near Russia's borders with China and Mongolia.

Russian Federation began, near the border with China, the largest military maneuvers in its history, "Vostok 2018", which take place amid great tensions with the West and on the eve of a more than likely escalation of the conflict in Syria.

That large-scale exercise, called the Zapad drills, involved nearly 13,000 troops. Spokeswoman for Russia's foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova, said: "Unfortunately, we are used to the allegations that Russian Federation is preparing for some big conflict".

Last month, the Kremlin's spokesman said Russia's "ability to defend itself in the current global situation which is often aggressive and unfriendly to our country is justified, essential and without alternative".

But Russia pivoted east towards China after the West sanctioned Moscow over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014 and trade links between the two, who share a land border over 4,200 km long, have blossomed since.

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