Evening Express

Russia kicks off biggest war games in decades

Russia’s largest war games in recent history have kicked off in the Far East.

The Defence Ministry said the largest military drills since the end of the Cold War will involve about 36,000 tanks and 300,000 troops at sea and on the ground.

(PA Graphics)

China is sending 3,200 troops to take part in the Vostok 2018 exercises later this week.

The war games are being held a year after Russia staged major drills in the country’s west, unnerving neighbouring former Soviet republics.

Nato and European governments are eyeing the exercises closely, watching to see what they reveal about military co-operation between Russia and China, and their mounting military might.

Tanks roll during the exercises in the Chita region (Russian Defence Ministry Press Service/AP)

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin treated Chinese President Xi Jinping to Russian pancakes in a show of warm personal ties between the two leaders.

The two leaders ate pancakes with caviar and had shots of vodka at an exhibition at the sidelines of an economic forum in the far eastern port of Vladivostok.

President Xi and President Putin tuck in (Sergei Bobylev/Tass News Agency/AP)

Beijing and Moscow have developed a “strategic partnership” reflecting their shared opposition to the “unipolar” world, the term they use to describe perceived US global domination.

The rapprochement has been driven by a strong personal relationship between the pair. They have met nearly 30 times, and Mr Putin said the Chinese president is the only world leader he has invited to celebrate his birthday.