Russia Slashes Far East War Games With China

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the audience during the military parade of the Vostok-2018 (Eastern-2018) war games participants at the Tsugol military training ground in Zabaikalsky region, Russia, on 13 September 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS/File photo

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  • Russia will play war games with China and other countries
  • 50,000 Russians will participate compared to 300,000 in 2018 – Russia
  • The cutout reflects the burden on the army from the 6-month war in Ukraine
  • Chinese forces are shown unloading armored vehicles in Russia
  • Drills to include naval maneuvers in the Sea of ​​Japan

LONDON, Aug 29 (Reuters) – Russian military exercises in the Far East this week will be held on a much smaller scale than when they were last held in 2018, reflecting the strain on Moscow’s forces as they fight to advance on the battlefields of eastern Ukraine.

Announcing the “Vostok 2022” war games, in which China will also participate, the Russian Defense Ministry said last month that its ability to organize such exercises was in no way affected by what Russia calls its “military operation”. special” in Ukraine.

But the 50,000 troops Moscow said on Monday would be involved is a fraction of the official figure of 300,000 said to be involved four years ago, though some Western military analysts suspect that figure was exaggerated.

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The Defense Ministry said 140 military aircraft and more than 5,000 items of military equipment would be deployed, far short of the reported 1,000 planes and 36,000 tanks and armored vehicles sent to the 2018 exercises.

“This will be the smallest strategic-level exercise in years because the full potential of the ground forces is involved in operations in Ukraine. Therefore, the exercise will have to be very small,” said Konrad Muzyka, director of the Rochan military consultancy. based in Ukraine. Poland.

Still, the exercises will be closely watched by regional powers such as Japan and South Korea as a major show of force by Russia and China, which have joined Vostok 2018 and will again participate in exercises on land and at sea.

Russia said its Pacific Fleet and Chinese Navy will engage in “joint practical actions to defend maritime communications and maritime economic activity areas” in the Sea of ​​Japan.

Russia’s armed forces news channel Zvezda published a video on Monday of Chinese troops unloading armored vehicles delivered to Russia by rail.


Russia has relied heavily on units from the Far East to bolster its war effort in Ukraine, thousands of miles to the west, where its forces have suffered heavy losses in men and equipment in the six months since its invasion on February 24 while occupying around a fifth of its neighbor’s territory.

Muzyka said he estimated that 70-80% of units from Russia’s Eastern Military District had been deployed to Ukraine, making it “impossible” for Moscow to release 50,000 men for the exercises. He said a more plausible figure would be 10,000 to 15,000.

“It’s just that Russia is pretending that everything is fine and that they still have the ability to launch a large-scale military exercise with China. But actually I think the scope of this exercise, especially from a ground force perspective, is going to be very, very limited,” he said.

The Eastern Military District includes part of Siberia and is based in Khabarovsk, near the Chinese border.

The Defense Ministry said the exercises would take place from September 1 to 7 and would also involve military contingents and observers from Algeria, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Syria and the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan. , Kyrgyzstan. and Tajikistan.

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Reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Edited by Angus MacSwan

Our standards: the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Mark Trevelyan

Thomson Reuters

Chief editor on Russia and the CIS. He has worked as a journalist on 7 continents and reported from over 40 countries, publishing in London, Wellington, Brussels, Warsaw, Moscow and Berlin. He covered the breakup of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. he Security correspondent from 2003 to 2008. he speaks French, Russian, and (rusty) German and Polish.

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