Russia’s International Army Games kicked off with an opening ceremony held last Thursday and will continue until August 11. Thirty-two countries are said to be participating, with competitions taking place at Russia’s training facilities, as well as at guest organisers’ military bases abroad, including in Iran, China, and Armenia. The military Olympics tradition, which was started by Russia’s Ministry of Defence, is recent, only being on its fourth annual event. Armies compete in fields such as a tank biathlon, military medicine, falcon hunting, and aerial maneuvering.
It is for the first time that Armenia and Iran are co-hosting events of the Army Games. The opening ceremony was attended by about seven defence ministers and a number of delegations led by Chiefs of Staff. Held in Russia and this year partially in Kazakhstan, the games’ annual organization is quickly becoming a tradition for Russia’s armed forces and frequent attendees in China, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Iran, Serbia and others. 47 countries were invited, including the U.S. and other NATO allies but Greece appears to be the only NATO member to send a team. It is only competing in the sniper competition.
The games will also be broadcast on national television and Russian state media has already kicked off the usual extensive coverage of the event. State news agency RIA Novosti reports that these military-themed Olympic Games will feature 54 tank crews and 50 air force crews, as well as anything from naval, to sniper to cook teams. The international attendance gives the impression that Russia has friends in the world with equally formidable militaries.