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Russian Federation launches biggest war games Vostok-2018: 10 things to know

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Moscow's war games in Eastern Europe last year Zapad-2017 saw 12,700 troops take part according to Moscow. Ukraine and the Baltic states said the true number was far bigger

Chinese President Xi Jinping will be in Russian Federation this week to meet with President Vladimir Putin at an economic forum in Russia's far eastern city of Vladivostok.

China is planning to join the Russian military exercises for the first time, sending 3,200 troops to take part in the drills.

Russian officials have said that the war games are not meant as a threat to any particular country but are justified by what Putin's spokesman described on August 28 as a hostile global environment.

Moscow and Beijing have forged what they described as a "strategic partnership", expressing their shared opposition to the "unipolar" world, the term they use to describe perceived USA global domination.

The Russian strongman praised the Kremlin's increasingly close ties with China as he met with Xi at the economic forum in Vladivostok on Tuesday.

"They feel they need to embrace to deal with the increasingly high pressure and containment from the US", said Yue Gang, a military expert and retired Chinese army colonel.

China's participation will enhance its counterattack abilities and reinforce ties with Russia, Chinese government officials said Tuesday.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesperson Dylan White said that the military organization has been briefed about the exercise in May and it would monitor it. "Vostok demonstrates Russia's focus on exercising large-scale conflict".

The Chinese media described the country's involvement as its largest-ever dispatch of forces overseas for war games.

They have been held every four years since Russian President Vladimir Putin revived them in the mid-2000s, but, this year, Russia's military said they are on an unprecedented scale, passing the previous largest that was held by the Soviet Union in 1981.

Some noted that the People's Liberation Army, which hasn't fought a war since the attempted invasion of Vietnam in 1979, is keen to learn from Russia's experience in the Syrian campaign, where it tested its latest weapons and tactics. "If Russia had not invited China, that would have been viewed by Beijing as a potentially risky activity by Russia".

Hong Kong-based commentator Song Zhongping said China is anxious to acquire more experience in large-scale operations that might become a factor in a conflict with the US and others over territorial claims in Asia.

They are taking place about 3,000 miles of Moscow and have been attributed to the increase in tensions between the West and Russian Federation.

"They demonstrate the seriousness of our intentions", General Ivashov said.

The Pentagon are expected to be watching exercises closely, an expert told CNBC.

"With its Vostok 2018 exercise Russia sends a message that it regards the U.S.as a potential enemy and China as a potential ally", wrote Dmitri Trenin, a former Russian army colonel and director of the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank.

Considering Russia's recent behaviour, Europe and the USA could be forced into a position where war becomes inevitable, he said.

"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", White said.

Vladimir Isachenkov reported from Moscow.

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