Russia, China Flex Military Might Together

Map showing planned Russian military manoeuvres for

By chance or design, the exercise - which is to involve more than 1,000 military aircraft, two Russian naval fleets and all Russian airborne units - is taking place while Russian President Vladimir Putin holds talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in the Russian port city of Vladivostok.

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

The Russian president has mobilised his army to the country's Far East to take part in unprecedented military drills on a scale not seen since the height of the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

China's presence is being seen as a signal from both countries emphasizing their cooperation at a moment when Moscow and Beijing find themselves in a confrontation with the United States.

The activity was part of the first stage of the exercise, which runs until Monday next week, the ministry said in a statement.

"Russia has very strong real combat abilities and the participation of the [People's Liberation Army] in such a large-scale military exercise ... indicates China's intention to learn more valuable combat practices and lift its ability for joint combat", Mr Song said.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation 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.

When asked if he was concerned about a potential military alliance between Russian Federation and China in the future, U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said he did not see the two countries aligned in the long-term.

"Fundamentally, the goal of this specific exercise is to project Russian military power in the Asia-Pacific region", Kokcharov said.

In this photo provided by the Russian Defence Ministry Press Service on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, a Russian soldier guards an area during the military exercises in the Chita region, Eastern Siberia, during the Vostok 2018 exercises.

The Kremlin has insisted the exercises are routine and purely defensive.

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But Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed such concerns.

- Vostok-2018 it includes 297,000 servicemen.

The country´s war games in Eastern Europe past year, Zapad-2017, saw 12,700 troops take part according to Moscow.

"Imagine 36,000 military vehicles moving all at the same time; tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles - and all of these in conditions as close to a combat situation as possible", Sergey Shoigu, Russia's defense minister, said this month.

"It is important not to exaggerate the significance of the Vostock 2018 drills", Watling wrote.

Tanks roll during the military exercises in Chita, Eastern Siberia, during the Vostok 2018 exercises, September 11, 2018.

For Russia, the increasingly robust alliance with China is particularly important amid the growing tensions with the US and its allies and a looming threat of more biting USA sanctions.

Shoigu has said they are the biggest since a Soviet military exercise, Zapad-81 (West-81) in 1981.

He added: "Russia also thinks that the worldwide reactions to its appalling behaviour over recent years - including the seizure of Crimea, aggression against Ukraine, causing and abetting untold suffering in Syria, the attempted murder of the Skripals and more - are just more indications of this "aggressive and unfriendly" attitude by the rest of the world".

"The key question is not whether Russian Federation will launch a war against NATO", Watling wrote, "but where Russian Federation - and China for that matter - aim to use their burgeoning capacity for expeditionary logistics and combined operations to project power".

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