Russian military exercise
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Russia To Hold 'Biggest Military Exercise Since Cold War'

Their defence minister says the 'Vostok-2018' exercises will be the largest of their kind since 1981.

Russian military exercise

The exercise will be three times larger than Zapad 2017 (Image: Russian Ministry of Defence).

Russia has announced it is to hold its biggest war games in nearly four decades, and what it says will be its largest war games since the Cold War.

Their defence minister says the 'Vostok-2018' exercises will be the largest of their kind since 1981.  

Vostock-2018 will involve all of the country’s airborne units and will also include two Russian naval fleets with some 300,000 troops and 1,000 aircraft taking part in central and eastern Russia.

China and Mongolia will also participate.

The announcement comes four days after RAF fighter jets were scrambled to investigate a Russian aircraft for the second time in a week.

Russian jets ZAPAD 2017
Russian aircraft during Zapad 2017 (Picture: Russian Defence Ministry).

The exercise is three times larger than last year’s exercise, Zapad 2017, which caused concern for NATO members, who complained of a lack of transparency about the war games.

Vostock will be rivalling the 1981 exercise 'Zapad-81' in both terms of size and scale. Zapad-81 lasted for eight days under the former Soviet Union.

Zapad-81 also introduced several new weapons such as the RSD-10 medium-range strategic missile and the Project 1143 aircraft carrier.

Meanwhile, Russian news agency, Izvestia, claimed that the Russian navy had dispatched the biggest task force to the Mediterranean Sea since the start of the country’s involvement in the conflict in Syria in September 2015.

Professor Mark Galeotti speaks to Forces News. 

Professor Mark Galeotti, Russian expert at the Institute of International Relations Prague, spoke to Forces News about Vostok-2018. He said: "They're (Russia) are really training and demonstrating to the rest of the world, that they are now in position where if they needed to, they could fight full-scale, all-arms operations.

"You don't put up to 300,000 people in the field, or at least getting involved in an exercise, just for the optics.

"This (Vostok-2018) is about training how their higher level command structures work but at the same time, they absolutely have a clear sense of how the rest of the world is going to look at it and particularly with the involvement of the Chinese. 

"This is also meant to be a part of demonstrating that Russia does have a friend and this is an operation, from the Chinese point of view, is also demonstrating that the Chinese should not be ruled out in modern geopolitics."

Professor Galeotti added that NATO should "not be too concerned" by the exercise, describing Moscow and Beijing as "frenemies" who have "very, very different long term strategic objectives".  

Four RAF Typhoons are currently in Romania on a NATO mission  (Picture: MoD).
RAF Typhoons intercepted Russian aircraft last week (Picture: MoD).

On Monday morning, it was revealed that Royal Air Force interceptions of Russian military aircraft had been labelled dangerous and "provocative" by Moscow in a clear warning to the UK.

Russia claimed the RAF intercepted its aircraft over the Black Sea, before scrambling to intercept two suspected Russian fighter aircraft on Wednesday.

The Vostok-2018 exercises will be carried out from September 11 to 15 in the eastern part of the country.