Russian President Vladimir Putin says that his country was peace-loving and that the ongoing Vostok-2018 exercises deemed as the largest military drills since the Cold War, were aimed at developing its defence capabilities.
Speaking at Tsugol, situated close to the borders of China and Mongolia, Putin said the drills would help boost the country’s internal security capabilities and to extend a helping hand to allies, reports Efe news.
“Russia is a peace-loving state, we do not have and cannot have any aggressive plans, Our foreign policy is aimed at (development of) the constructive cooperation with all the countries interested in that,” Putin said while attending the exercises.
He said that 87 observers from 57 countries have been invited to watch the drills.
“Today, the most active stage of the exercises is completed at the Tsugol training ground in the Trans-Baikal territory. You held it at a high level: all units and formations fulfilled their assigned tasks,” said Putin.
The President added that it was for the first time that the armed forces of post-Soviet Russia have undertaken such a tough drill, involving the participation of around 300,000 soldiers, more than 1,000 aircraft, dozens of ships and 36,000 armoured vehicles.
“We will continue to strengthen our armed forces, equip them with latest weapons and technologies, to develop international military cooperation,” he added.
Putin also thanked the Chinese and Mongolian soldiers, who took part in the drills and recalled the historical alliance between the three countries during World War II when they had fought together.
He highlighted the important role the three have been playing in maintaining the stability of the Euro-Asiatic region.
Russia’s armed forces began the second day of its massive military exercises in the country’s far east on Wednesday with a show of strength involving anti-aircraft and missile manoeuvres.
The Vostok-2018 war games, the largest staged by Russia since the Cold War, was partly held at the Soviet-built training ground in Telemba, some 200 km to the east of Lake Baikal in the heart of Siberia, Efe reported.
As heavy rain fell, the overcast Siberian sky filled with missiles, guided rockets and thunderous explosions in a show of strength that observers in the West will be watching eagerly.
Colonel Alexander Agafanov of the Russia Air Force described the exercises as a success.
The military arranged several artillery batteries stocked with mid to long-range S-300, S-400, Tor and Buk missiles, the likes of which Moscow has recently sold to Syria and Iran despite protests from the US and Israel.
More than a thousand soldiers took part in a hyper-realistic recreation of a theatre of war and explosions interrupted the normally tranquil region, one of the few in Russia where the population is predominantly Buddhist.
Although the war games serve Moscow’s propaganda machine, officials declined to name the imagined enemy of the Russian, Chinese and Mongolian forces taking part in Vostok-2018.
Nor would they enlighten reporters as to why there was no sign of the more than 3,000 Chinese soldiers sent to the manoeuvres by Beijing.
The participation of the People’s Liberation Army surprised many experts.
The display of strength from Russia comes at a time when relations between Moscow and the West are at a considerable low.
According to the Russian defence ministry, 300,000 troops, more than 1,000 aircraft and some 36,000 tanks and vehicles are involved in the manoeuvres.
The Kremlin said the war games were routine and did not pose a threat to other countries. (IANS)