Russian Federation says joint war games with China will be routine

President Ronald Reagan and wife Nancy wave to the crowd as they drive down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington during the inaugural parade on Jan. 20 1981

Russia stages world’s largest military drills, NATO worried

The exercises are taking place at a time of heightened tensions between the West and Russia, including accusations of Russian influence in Western affairs and the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

As part of the maneuvers Wednesday, Russian air defense forces held drills in the Chita region, Russian strategic bombers launched long-range cruise missiles at a firing range in Buryatia in southern Siberia and warships in the Sea of Okhotsk fired at practice targets.

"The Russian and Chinese sides confirmed their interest in using national currencies more actively in reciprocal payments", Putin told journalists during a press briefing with Chinese leader Xi Jinping after talks at an economic forum in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation said that Vostok-2018 "demonstrates Russia's focus on exercising large-scale conflict".

Shoigu said that about 300,000 military personnel would take part, twice as many as the largest war games conducted by the Soviet Union: the Zapad-81 exercises in 1981.

Russian Federation was set to begin its largest military exercise since the Cold War on Tuesday, involving more than 300,000 military personnel, including forces from neighbouring China and Mongolia.

The demonstration of military might will include some joint exercises with the Chinese army.

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The Russian army is rolling out all of its latest additions for the event: Iskander missiles that can carry nuclear warheads, T-80 and T-90 tanks and its recent Su-34 and Su-35 fighter planes.

Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said the shift away from anti-terrorism drills to more conventional war games could pave the way for greater cooperation between China and Russian Federation.

"It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time - a more assertive Russian Federation, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence", the alliance's spokesman Dylan White said last month.

Russia´s previous military exercise in the region, Vostok-2014, was nearly half the size, with 155,000 soldiers participating.

However, sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West in response to the annexation of Crimea in 2014, coupled with tighter trade links, have seen them grow closer in recent years.

The war games are held a year after Russian Federation staged major drills in the country's west last September, unnerving neighbouring former Soviet republics.

Part of Russia's response has been to increase the number of large-scale military exercises across the globe in an apparent bid to project power and ward off perceived Western aggression.

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