Russia Holding Massive Military Drills, As Putin Meets Xi

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Russian Federation showcased its most sophisticated air defence system on Wednesday, using it to repel a mock attack from the sky as part of what it describes as its largest-ever military drills.

Vostok 2018 is home to more than twice the number of troops in the whole of the British Armed Forces, whose numbers stand under 150,000.

Hundreds of Chinese armoured combat vehicles, attack helicopters, fighter jets and thousands of soldiers take part in the biggest military exercise in Russian Federation since 1981, in a show of strength and friendship between Asia's two largest military powers.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the drills were taking place in light of the "aggressive and unfriendly" attitudes toward Russian Federation, according to the BBC. Mongolia also has sent a military contingent.

NATO Spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said that the training "fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: a more assertive Russian Federation, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence".

Moscow said the weeklong Vostok (East) 2018 maneuvers will span vast expanses of Siberia and the Far East, the Arctic and the Pacific Oceans and involve almost 300,000 Russian troops - almost one-third of the country's 1-million-strong military.

The military exercises come amid escalating tensions between Moscow and the west over accusations of Russian interference in western affairs and conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

The show of military power includes Russia's Iskander missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads, as well as its Su-34 and Su-35 fighter planes.

At sea, the Russian fleet is deploying several frigates equipped with Kalibr missiles that have been used in Syria.

Anti-aircraft technology will be at the heart of the drills today, but the main exercises will be held tomorrow, according to the country's defence ministry.

But Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed such concerns.

Given the declining and increasingly acrimonious state of relations since Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, Putin "wishes to be as best prepared as possible to prevail in open warfare as well", Giles added. At the same time, the Kremlin has accused North Atlantic Treaty Organisation of expanding westwards and threatening Russian national security. They also serve as an exercise in "military muscle-flexing" to Russia's global rivals.

Russian Federation has substantially increased the size and frequency of its military exercises in recent years, particularly following its invasion of Crimea in 2014.

Speaking of the forum, Jinping said the two countries "friendship is getting stronger all the time".

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