Russia launches largest military drills in decades, China participates

Chen Zhuo

Vostok 2018, or East 2018 as some call them, Russia's biggest strategic military drills in nearly four decades, kicked off on Tuesday.

With nearly 300,000 Russian troops, 36,000 military vehicles, and more than 1,000 aircraft, the drills are the largest ever for the Russian military since 1981.

The drills also include about 3,200 Chinese soldiers, over 1,000 pieces of military equipment and 30 planes and helicopters, making it the Chinese army's largest ever overseas military exercise.

The Chinese troops are currently co-training with Russian forces at Tsugol Training Range, Russia's Trans-Baikal region. The commanding headquarter of the Chinese army in the drills told CGTN that the Chinese troops have already fired over ten thousand rounds of various shells and ammunition during the training.

Photo by Yang Zaixin

In the drill playbook, an enemy force is invading into Russia, and the Chinese forces are cooperating with their Russian counterparts to counter-attack the invasion.

In the first two days, the two armies will focus mainly on tactical plans and coordinating military activities. The final drills will take place on Thursday.

According to Wu Keli, vice-chief of staff of the PLA 78th Army Corps, Vostok 2018 is designed as a complete military campaign, including three stages, mobile defense, fire strikes and counter-attacks. "It's a good exercise for our troops and commanding power at all levels," Wu added.

In the past, most China-Russia joint military drills focused on anti-terrorism. However, in this drill, the two armies are simulating a classical warfare, striking traditional threats.

Photo by Yang Zaixin

"It symbolizes the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination and how cooperation between the two armies has upgraded into a new level," said senior colonel Li Shuyin, military researcher from PLA Academy of Military Sciences.

Though with so many equipment and forces, unlike the many China-Russia military drills before, this one is not a joint military drill.

Li Shuyin told CGTN that "In a joint military drill, the two sides together will set up the strategies and tactics. But this time, the Chinese army is 'embedded,' so to speak, into Russia's domestic drills."

According to the commanding headquarter of the Chinese army in the drills, the exercise is not aimed at any third party.






Related News