When one of the world’s most potent military powers decides that they’re going to get flashy, the entire planet tends to sit up and take notice.
Such is the case this week as Russian military forces head east to participate in the nation’s largest ever war games, with some experts believing that the event is nothing more than a thinly veiled practice run for an enormous, coming conflict.
Russia launched Tuesday what it called its largest ever military drills, with hundreds of thousands of troops taking part along with Chinese soldiers in a show of force NATO condemned as a rehearsal for “large-scale conflict.”
President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend the games after hosting an economic forum in Russia’s far eastern city Vladivostok where his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping is one of the prominent guests.
The week-long war games dubbed “Vostok-2018″(East-2018) “have kicked off” in far eastern Russia, the defence ministry said.
Taking part in the drills are around 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 military vehicles, 80 ships and 1,000 aircraft, helicopters and drones.
Some 3,500 Chinese troops will take part in the games.
This has raised some serious concerns with global observers.
The drills, which also include Mongolian soldiers, have been condemned by NATO as a rehearsal for “large-scale conflict”.
The military exercises come at a time of escalating tensions between Moscow and the West over accusations of Russian interference in western affairs and conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.
The Russian army has compared the show of force to the USSR’s 1981 war games that saw between 100,000 and 150,000 Warsaw Pact soldiers take part in “Zapad-81” (West-81) — the largest military exercises of the Soviet era.
But Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said these exercises are even larger.
Of course, Vladimir Putin has long been one of the shadiest characters within the global political regime, having been accused of everything from installing a de facto dictatorship to interfering with the US election, to blackmailing Donald Trump with a video from an alleged encounter with unsanitary Russian prostitutes.
So, let’s just say, he may not be the most trustworthy guy on the planet.