August 28, 2018
© AFP | Russia will next month hold its biggest war games since at least the 1980s, with around 300,000 troops and 1,000 aircraft taking part
MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia will next month hold its biggest war games since at least the 1980s, with around 300,000 troops and 1,000 aircraft, the defence minister said Tuesday.
The Vostok-2018 exercises will be carried out from September 11 to 15 in the country’s east with the participation of China and Mongolia.
“This will be something of a repeat of Zapad-81, but in some senses even bigger,” Sergei Shoigu said of the 1981 war games in Eastern Europe, in comments reported by Russian news agencies.
He said “more than 1,000 aircraft, almost 300,000 troops and almost all the ranges of the Central and Eastern military districts” would be involved in the exercises.
“Imagine 36,000 pieces of military equipment moving together at the same time — tanks, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles. And all of this, of course, in conditions as close to combat as possible.”
A NATO spokesman Dylan White said that since Vostok-2018 takes place east of the Ural mountains, Moscow is not obliged to notify the West or invite observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, although an invitation has been extended to military attaches.
The announced drill “demonstrates Russia’s focus on exercising large-scale conflict,” he said in a comment.
Moscow said last year’s Zapad-2017 military drills, conducted in ally Belarus and western regions of Russia, saw the participation of roughly 12,700 troops.
But NATO claimed Russia could have been massively underreporting the scale of the exercises, which some of the alliance’s eastern members said involved more than 100,000 servicemen.