A defense minister said Tuesday that Russia will hold war games next month, its biggest since the height of the Cold War nearly four decades ago.
The Vostok-2018 drills in Russia’s eastern and central military districts from Sept. 11 to 15 will mobilize almost a third of the country’s soldiers, making it the largest Russian or Soviet military exercise since 1981, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a statement Tuesday during his visit to the Central Military District.
About 300,000 troops will be involved in the drills, which traditionally start with a number of preparatory measures including some 15 special support exercises, Shoigu said.
“As a rule, it goes together with a surprise combat inspection announced by the supreme commander-in-chief, which has become a good practice,” he said. “Imagine that 36,000 pieces of hardware are operating simultaneously – tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, and all of them are tests in environment closely resembling a combat one.”
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The drills, which will also include Chinese and Mongolian armies, come at a time of heightened tension between the West and Russia.
It is the largest military exercise since the “Zapad-81” drills in 1981 staged by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, Bloomberg reported.
“In some ways, these maneuvers repeat Zapad-81, but in others they’re probably even bigger,” Shoigu said.
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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added that drills were needed to ensure Russia’s military capabilities “in the current international situation, which is often quite aggressive and unfriendly to our country.”