Putin inspects war games, vows to beef up army

The week-long Vostok-2018 manoeuvres span vast expanses of Siberia and Asia-Pacific the Arctic and the Pacific Ocean and showcase the military might of Russia and China at a time of simmering tensions with the US

Putin watches war games billed as Russia's biggest ever; China taking part

Vostok-2018, set to become the largest military exercises held by Russian Federation in over 35 years, are being held on September 11-17 at five ranges in the east of Russian Federation, and in the waters of the Sea of Japan, Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk.

Major drills are now being staged in eastern Siberia close to the border with China and 300,000 Russian troops have been involved in the week-long exercise together with joint exercises alongside Chinese military counterparts.

Vostok-2018 is taking place at a time of heightened tension between the West and Russian Federation, and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has said it will monitor the exercise closely, as will the United States which has a strong military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Speaking to 30,000 Russian and Chinese troops lined up at the Tsugol training zone east of Lake Baikal, the president said Russia had no plans of aggression and sought cooperation with other countries. They involve almost 300,000 Russian troops along with 1,000 Russian aircraft and 36,000 tanks and other combat vehicles.

He emphasized that "Russia is a peaceful nation", but noted that the country needs to strengthen its military capability to "be ready to protect its sovereignty, security and national interests, and, if necessary, support our allies".

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"Today here, at the Tsugol range in the Zabaikalsky Territory, the most active stage of the (Vostok-2018) drills came to an end".

Chinese troops have joined the Russians.

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.

"Therefore, we are going to further strengthen our armed forces, supply them with the latest generations of weapons and equipment", Mr Putin told troops. "We do not and can not have aggressive plans", the head of state said.

"Our foreign policy is aimed at constructive cooperation with all countries that are interested in it", he added.

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