Russia Responds to NATO Build-Up With Biggest Military Exercise Involving 300,000 Troops

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Sholgu on Tuesday stated that Russia, together with Chinese and Mongolian armies, is going to hold the most massive military exercise since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Sholgu in a statement shared some of the details of the exercise. It will be called Vostok-2018 (East-2018) and will take place in central and eastern Russian military districts involving almost 300,000 troops, over 1,000 military aircraft, two of Russia’s naval fleets, and all its airborne units.

The exercise is seen as a response to what Russia says is an unjustified build-up of the NATO military alliance on its western flank.

Meanwhile, NATO’s excuse for increasing the troops in eastern Europe is to deter potential Russian military action after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014 and backed a pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine.

According to Reuters, the war games, which will take place from Sept. 11-15, are likely to displease Japan which has already complained about what it says is a Russian military build-up in the Far East.

Reuters also reported that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to attend a forum in Vladivostok over the same period.

Japan Foreign Ministry official on Tuesday stated that Tokyo always paid attention to shifts in Russian-Chinese military cooperation.

Shoigu said the war games would be the biggest since a Soviet military exercise, Zapad-81 (West-81) in 1981.

“In some ways, they will repeat aspects of Zapad-81, but in other ways, the scale will be bigger,” Shoigu told reporters while visiting the Russian region of Khakassia.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has said that the Chinese and Mongolian military units will also take part in the exercise.

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