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Russia Plans Biggest War Games Since Soviet Era

'Vostok-2018' will run from Sept. 11-15
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2018 9:07 AM CDT
A Russian tank is shown in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018.   (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

(Newser) – In 1981, the Soviet Union staged a pretend attack on NATO. Nearly 40 years later, Russia will move forward with its biggest war games since. The BBC reports some 300,000 military personnel will participate; that's thought to be a little less than a third of the country's total. The "Vostok-2018" war games ("Vostok" means east) will run from Sept. 11-15 in the central and eastern parts of Russia, covering ground from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific, per Bloomberg. Reuters expects that will ruffle Japan, which has previously expressed concern about Russia's bolstered military presence in the Far East. It'll also mark the biggest military exercise China has participated in with Russia; the AP reports it will send roughly 3,200 troops to take part.

A rep for President Vladimir Putin says China's involvement "indicates the broadening of interaction between these two allies in all spheres." "In some ways [the war games] will repeat aspects of Zapad-81," says Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in reference to the 1981 exercises. "But in other ways the scale will be bigger." A rep for NATO says it was informed of the plan in May and will observe the games, but he sounded a note of caution: "Vostok demonstrates Russia’s focus on exercising large-scale conflict. It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence." (Read more Russia stories.)

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