Here is a look at the massive “Vostok” (meaning “East”) annual military exercise taking place in Siberia in eastern Russia this week and next. This particular run of the war games is huge, with Chinese troops participating in the drills – the first time even on Russian sovereign soil.
President Putin opened a spectacular troop review that saw Russian and Chinese armor, troops and warplanes parade through a training ground in Siberia. The parade was part of the Vostok 2018 exercise, the biggest in decades.
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived on Thursday to observe the main part of the Vostok 2018 war games, in which Russian, Chinese, and Mongolian troops trained defensive and offensive operations. Scores of tanks, heavy artillery, missile systems and combat jets have been involved, as well as thousands of soldiers and officers.
President Putin also opened a grand parade at the Russian Army’s Tsugol training range and praised the troops for their performance in the military exercise. He reiterated, however, that the display of military might is not directed against anyone, as Russia seeks “constructive partnership.”
The troop review started with light armored jeeps carrying both Russian and Chinese flags through the parade grounds, followed by four fighter jets flying over the area.
Dozens of Russian Army BMP-2 fighting vehicles came next, making way for an array of armored machines, including the BTR-82, Tiger and Typhoon personnel carriers.
T-72B3 tanks, derived from the T-72 family, followed, accompanied by Chinese Type 99 tanks and Type 08 fighting vehicles. Russian Iskander-M tactical missiles, TOS-1 flamethrowers, as well as Tornado multiple launch rocket systems were also seen in the parade.
A pack of helicopters, tactical bombers, and fighter jets made spectacular fly-pasts at the end of the parade. The Russian aircraft were joined by several Chinese Xian JH-7 bombers and Z-19 attack helicopters.
The exercise involves around 300,000 Russian soldiers, including 6,000 airborne troops, over 1,000 warplanes, helicopters and drones, about 36,000 armor, and 80 combat and support ships. To ensure full transparency, the Russian Defense Ministry invited 87 observers from 57 countries to the event.
Sputnik News also covered the exercise and noted further statements from the Russian President regarding the reason and motivation for the enormous event:
“Russia is a peaceful state, we do not have and cannot have any aggressive plans,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday at the Tsugol range.
However, the Russian army must be ready to protect national sovereignty and security as well as to support the country’s allies, Vladimir Putin stressed.
“Our duty to our country and Motherland is to be ready to protect sovereignty, security and national interests of our country and, if needed, to support allies,” Putin said.
In addition, the Vostok-2018 war games demonstrated that the Russian army is capable of countering significant military threats, Putin stressed. “You demonstrated the military prowess, showed your capability to successfully counter potential military threats,” Putin said addressing to the troops that participated in the drills.
Putin further stressed that he highly assessed the performance of the Russian army and navy in the Vostok-2018 drills.
“Today here, at the Tsugol range in the Zabaikalsky Territory, the most active stage of the [Vostok-2018] drills came to an end. You demonstrated the high-level performance. All units and formations have fulfilled the set tasks,” the Russian president added.
The president also stated that the Russian army and navy had never faced such a difficult exam.
A very detailed and lengthy video of Vostok exercises is available below: