From September 11 to 15, Russia will hold its largest war games since 1981. The exercise is called Vostok-2018 and will involve more than 300,000 troops, two Russian naval fleets, more than 1,000 military aircraft and all of Russia’s airborne units. Chinese and Mongolian military units will participate alongside Russian forces. Despite Russia not being obligated to do so as the exercises will be held to the east of the Ural Mountains, NATO military attachés were invited to observe the exercises.In justifying Moscow’s reasoning for holding Vostok-2018, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov asserted Russia’s right to self-defense, noting that the international community is increasingly hostile towards Russia.Moscow has cited the steady increase of NATO forces deployed in eastern Europe and the United States’ ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System deployed in Japan as evidence of a Western military buildup.Russia, however, has been increasingly aggressive in developing and demonstrating its military capabilities. Russian warships have been deployed to the Mediterranean Sea, part of the country’s largest naval presence in the Mediterranean since 2015.Russia’s Mediterranean fleet is comprised of ten vessels in total, each armed with long-range Kalibr cruise missiles. More provocative, British Royal Air Force fighter jets twice intercepted Russian military aircraft over the Black Sea in a single week in August.
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