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Vostok [East] Exercises

August-September 2018 was marked by a significant event for the Russian army - large-scale military exercises in the Far East. These media reports indicate that territorial exercises will be held in the area of ??two military districts - Central and Eastern. This data is reported by the head of the Main Directorate of Combat Training of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation I. Buvaltsev. The scope of these exercises is comparable only with the operations that were conducted during the world war. Almost a third of all troops will take part in exercises in the east. It is envisaged to conduct large-scale operations, essentially connected between one goal and one plan. Involved a huge amount of special equipment, human and material resources. The leadership notes that the East 2018 Military Exercises is one of the most important and large-scale defense events this year.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the military exercises. He said they will involve the armies of China and Mongolia. The Reuters news agency said the exercises, called Vostok-2018, would take place in Russia’s central and eastern military districts. "We give the main outline of what we are going to hold next year, the only thing that does not fall into this plan are surprise inspections. Naturally, we planned these exercises, and we plan to hold them every five years," Shoigu told the Rossiya 1 broadcaster.

The war games took place from September 11 to 15. It involved almost 300,000 troops, over 1,000 military aircraft, and two of Russia’s naval fleets, Shoigu said in a statement. The Russian defense minister said the war games would be the biggest since 1981. "These are the largest drills of the Armed Forces, which acquired the status of international drills, since the Zapad 1981 exercises, it has an unprecedented scale, both in terms of spatial scope and number of involved military command, troops and forces," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in August. That was 10 years before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The war games came at a time of increased tensions between Russia and the West. Russian officials are concerned about what they say is an unjustified build-up of the NATO military alliance along their country’s western borders. The large-scaled Vostok-2018 war games involve troops from the Eastern and Central Military Districts, the Northern Fleet and the Airborne Troops, as well as some units from the Russian Aerospace Forces.

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Vostok-2018 large-scale international drills were held at five military training grounds and in the waters of the Sea of Japan, the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk and were the largest event in the recent history of the country's armed forces maneuvers. The military maneuvers received an international status since Chinese and Mongolian troops also took part in one of the drill's stages. In particular, the Chinese Air Force will send 26 helicopters and 6 jets to Russia for taking part in Vostok-2018 military drills, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. According to the ministry, the Chinese Air Force group will also include six Mi-171 helicopters, which have been bought in Russia, as well as nine Z-9 and nine Z-19 choppers.

They displeased Japan, which was already worried about a Russian military build-up in East Asia. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was set to attend a meeting in the Russian city of Vladivostok over the same period. China and Russia had held military exercises together before, but never exercises this large.

"Russia is a peaceful state, we do not have and cannot have any aggressive plans," Russian President Vladimir Putin said on 13 September 2018 at the Tsugol range. However, the Russian army must be ready to protect national sovereignty and security as well as to support the country's allies, Vladimir Putin stressed. "Our duty to our country and Motherland is to be ready to protect sovereignty, security and national interests of our country and, if needed, to support allies," Putin said.

In addition, the Vostok-2018 war games demonstrated that the Russian army is capable of countering significant military threats, Putin stressed. "You demonstrated the military prowess, showed your capability to successfully counter potential military threats," Putin said addressing to the troops that participated in the drills.

Putin further stressed that he highly assessed the performance of the Russian army and navy in the Vostok-2018 drills. "Today here, at the Tsugol range in the Zabaikalsky Territory, the most active stage of the [Vostok-2018] drills came to an end. You demonstrated the high-level performance. All units and formations have fulfilled the set tasks," the Russian president added.

The president also stated that the Russian army and navy had never faced such a difficult exam. "Our army and navy have passed such a difficult and big exam for the first time… All components of the troops' combat readiness, preparedness of the management bodies, units and formations as well as the organization of their cooperation… are subjected to comprehensive checks," Putin explained.

Turning to the Vostok-2018 maneuvers, Army General Valery Gerasimov said that they had been preceded by the entire cycle of preparatory activities — surprise checks and command-staff exercises. In mid-August, a surprise inspection of the Northern Fleet was conducted, and at the end of the month - the Central and Eastern Military Districts.

In addition, 16 exercises were conducted on the types of comprehensive support, including intelligence, electronic warfare, camouflage, moral and psychological, material and technical support, and others. All formations, military units and subunits that perform tasks for the comprehensive support of the troops were involved in special exercises.

“In preparation for the Vostok-2018 maneuvers, measures were taken with practical delivery of mobilization resources. Mobilized 21 formations in 10 constituent entities of the Russian Federation, several thousand citizens called up from the reserve. In the Southern and Central Military Districts, subdivisions of territorial troops were formed, which were redeployed by military transport aviation to the Eastern Military District to perform combat training tasks, ”Valery Gerasimov said. According to him, the main goal of the Vostok-2018 maneuvers is to check the real level of training of the associations, which can only be assessed in exercises of the appropriate scale. These maneuvers, conducted on a bilateral basis, are the highest form of verification of combat skills, field, air, and maritime training of troops of military districts.

The event involves the troops of the Eastern and Central Military Districts, the Northern Fleet and the Airborne Forces, as well as part of the forces of the long-range, military transport and operational-tactical aviation of the Airspace Forces. In total, 297 thousand military personnel will take part in the maneuvers; more than 1,000 aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles, up to 36 thousand tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers and other vehicles, up to 80 ships and support vessels were involved.

“The military contingents of the People’s Liberation Army of China and the armed forces of Mongolia will also take part in them, who will act according to a common concept in a single battle formation with the Russian military personnel. Currently, the troops of these countries are completing on the Tsugol proving ground the measures of harmonization and joint training, ”the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation noted.

“The Vostok-2018 maneuvers are held within the budget funds allocated to the Ministry of Defense for combat training for a year,” Valery Gerasimov emphasized. “All this is planned in advance in the budget of the Ministry of Defense for the current year and no additional funds are required.”

According to the statement of the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the main features of the maneuvers are the two-way format for conducting them not only on a strategic scale, but also at all levels of government. The actions of the formations and military units on unfamiliar polygons were preceded by their transfer by a combined method at a distance of up to 7 thousand km and the implementation of an inter-fleet transition to a range of up to 4 thousand miles.

As a result of the transfer of troops according to the training plan, two opposing groups have now been created - on the one hand the Central Military District and the Northern Fleet, on the other - the Eastern Military District with the Pacific Fleet. To monitor the actions of the trainees, an intermediary apparatus has been prepared. The work of the control bodies and the actions of the troops will be evaluated throughout all maneuvers.

“The active phase“ Vostok-2018 ”will be held from September 11 to September 17 in two stages. The main actions will take place on five combined-arms ranges, four ranges of the Air Force and Air Defense, in the waters of the Okhotsk and Bering Seas, Avachinsky and Kronotsky Bays,” the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation informed. According to him, at the first stage, which will last two days, the headquarters will complete the planning, preparation of troops for combat operations, the organization of interaction and comprehensive support.

At the second stage, lasting five days, the troops will carry out practical actions in accordance with the decisions taken. In the course of it, it is planned to work out the questions of delivering massed air strikes, the fight against cruise missiles, the conduct of defensive, offensive, raid and circumvention actions. In the waters of the Sea of ??Okhotsk and the North-West Pacific Ocean, combat training tasks will be carried out to repel air strikes, defeat ship groups and naval landing forces. Aviation will take part in the raffle of episodes to support the advance of the ground forces and the defense of the sea coast. Airplanes and helicopters will work out missile and bomb strikes with the use of aviation weapons.

The most dynamic military operations were played at the Tsugol proving ground, where three unions of the Eastern Military District, together with the formations of the People’s Liberation Army of China and the armed forces of Mongolia, will oppose the two armies of the Central Military District. During the drawing of tactical episodes, extensive use of robotics, unmanned aerial vehicles, the landing of airborne assault forces by parachute method, the action of a mobile brigade, and the development of other tactical techniques were planned.

For trainees, a complex and rapidly changing environment has been developed, requiring energetic, operational measures and non-standard decisions. The work of the headquarters on the organization of the battle will be built using modern automated control systems and taking into account the experience of the operation in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The troops will perform the tasks of maneuvering defense, defeating the enemy with artillery units and strikes by army aviation. They will work out the transition to the counteroffensive with forcing a water barrier in difficult conditions. Upon completion of the practical actions, the leadership of the maneuvers will conduct a field review of the troops.

Up to 25 thousand Russian military personnel will take part in joint actions of the troops on the Tsugol proving ground, more than 7 thousand weapons, military and special equipment, about 250 airplanes and helicopters will be involved.

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Page last modified: 03-05-2019 18:38:12 ZULU