Vostok 2018 — Bringing Russia closer to China

IndraStra Global

Vostok 2018 — Bringing Russia closer to China

By IndraStra Global News Team

Anti-aircraft missile troops and tactical air defense units of Russia's Central and Eastern Military Districts take part in the drills / Source: Russian Defense Ministry press service/TASS

Image Attribute: Anti-aircraft missile troops and tactical air defense units of Russia's Central and Eastern Military Districts take part in the drills / Source: Russian Defense Ministry Press service/TASS

The Vostok 2018, also known as East 2018, a military exercise being held between September 11 to 17, which involves around 300,000 troops, more than 1,000 aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles, up to 80 vessels, up to 36,000 tanks, armored personnel carriers, and other vehicles, along with a contingent from China and Mongolia.

The drills are being conducted at five different ranges in the east of Russia, and in the waters of the Sea of Japan, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk.  As per the Kremlin's press statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin will inspect a leg of the exercise at Tsugol Firing Range in Russia's Zabaikalsky Territory in the Trans-Baikal Region on September 13. They have been dubbed the biggest of their kind since the Zapad 81 exercise in 1981.

Image Attribute: Pantsir S Missile System / Source: Russian Defense Ministry Press service/TASS

Image Attribute: Pantsir S Missile System / Source: Russian Defense Ministry Press service/TASS

According to The Moscow Times, "Vostok is part of a new series of strategic exercises that the Russian army started following the conclusion of military reforms that have helped sharpen Vladimir Putin’s war machine. The annual drills rotate between one of the country’s four military districts and are aimed at assessing Russia’s readiness to fend off a foreign aggression."

The week-long drills come at a time of heightened NATO-Russia tensions. As the exercises began, Putin met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at 4th Eastern Economic Forum in the eastern city of Vladivostok and told him "we have a trusting relationship in the sphere of politics, security, and defense". On the other hand, Xi, called for promoting sub-national cooperation to cement bilateral relations.

"Sub-national cooperation plays an important part in bilateral relations, and cooperation plans between the two countries should rely on their local regions, be implemented in local regions and benefit local regions", Xi said, stressing that "the closer the sub-national cooperation is, the more solid the foundation of the China-Russia mutually beneficial cooperation will become."


Image Attribute: Chinese military equipment is being loaded onto a train at a station. /Photo by Yang Zaixin, Chinamil.com.cn

Image Attribute: Chinese military equipment is being loaded onto a train at a station. /Photo by Yang Zaixin, Chinamil.com.cn

China has committed nearly 3,200 troops, 900 weapons, and 30 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters to the ongoing exercise and they have all arrived at their designated locations in Russia, from China, by rail – two countries’ closer military cooperation will be monitored with interest across the region and beyond. According to the statement released by the Kremlin, "The units of the Russian Armed Forces and the Chinese People's Liberation Army will practice action to repel the onslaught of a hypothetical enemy," the statement reads.

China’s participation highlights the significant transformation in Chinese–Russian relations that has occurred over the past decade. Especially after Sino-Soviet in the 1960s, Moscow and Beijing have found common ground in recent years even if "the relationship remains transactional in many ways". 

With reporting by BBC, The Moscow Times, and Xinhua