Russia to hold biggest military drills since Cold War with 300,000 troopsStaff Writer | August 29, 2018
Russia will flex its military muscles and hold the biggest war games since the Cold War era next month, including almost 300,000 troops and 1,000 aircraft, the Russian defense ministry said, leading NATO to warn of a “more assertive Russia.”
Defense The Vostok-2018 will be carried out from September 11 to 15
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the exercises would be similar in size to those held in September 1981 by the Soviet authorities, called Zapad-81, or West 81.
Those were unprecedented at the time in terms of the number of troops and military hardware, with around 100,000 troops involved, Russian television reported.
“This will be something of a repeat of Zapad-81, but in some senses even bigger,” Shoigu said in comments reported by Russian news agencies.
NATO spokesman Dylan White said that since Vostok-2018 would take place east of the Ural mountains, Moscow was not obliged to notify the West or invite observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, although an invitation had been extended to military attaches.
Meanwhile Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov defended the drills telling journalists that spending state funds on the country’s defense capabilities was “justified, necessary and the only option,” despite the country’s economic problems.
Defense Minister Shoigu said the drills would be “on an unprecedented scale both in terms of the area covered and in terms of the numbers” of military forces.
“More than 1,000 aircraft, almost 300,000 troops and almost all the firing ranges of the Central and Eastern military districts” would be involved, he said. “Imagine 36,000 pieces of military equipment moving together at the same time — tanks, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles. And all of this, of course, in conditions as close to combat as possible.” ■