Vostok 2018 is a large-scale Russian military exercise, which is being held from 11 to 17 September 2018, throughout Siberia and the country’s Far East. The Vostok 2018 drills taking place in eastern Siberia close to the border with China. The exercise involves units from the Army, Air Force and Navy. China, Mongolia, as well as NATO member Turkey, were invited to the exercise. NATO has already condemned the war games as a rehearsal for “large-scale conflict” – and experts say they are without doubt the largest in modern Russian history.
In late August 2018, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said the exercise will be the largest to be held in Russia since “Zapad-81” held by the Soviet Union in 1981. The Zapad exercises in 1981 involved about 100,000 to 150,000 troops and were the largest Soviet military exercises ever held. Shoygu later reported that nearly 300,000 troops would be taking part in the drills along with 36,000 vehicles and 1000 aircraft. 80 warships are also involved in the exercise. Vostok 2018 is double the size of the previous exercise in the region, Vostok 2014. reported that 91 foreign observers from 57 countries would be attending the exercise.
The jaw-dropping numbers involved in the Vostok-2018 include:
Around 300,000 battle-ready Russian troops.
More than 1,000 planes, helicopters, and drones.
36,000 tanks and armoured personnel carriers.
More than 80 ships and naval support vessels.
An estimated 30 aircraft from the Chinese air force.
Mongolian troops will also join the battles.
Russia has one million military personnel in total.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin visited the drills after attending the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. Putin’s spokesman said last month that maintaining Russia’s defence capabilities is “justified, needed and has no alternative” as rival powers are “frequently quite aggressive and unfriendly”. For weeks Russia has been preparing for the drills – at one point closing a road so planes could land near Khabarovsk, and firing missiles from land, surface and submarine at a target in the Sea of Okhotsk. The Chinese involvement is to improve Chinese-Russian military relations, as well as to prevent Chinese concern about military exercises near their border. The joint exercise will also allow Russia to demonstrate it is not militarily isolated. There are reports that there will be sharing of information between the Russian Armed Forces and the People’s Liberation Army on combat lessons from the Syrian Civil War.