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Russia braces for unprecedented Vostok-2018 strategic drills

The drills will involve over 1,000 aircraft and almost 300,000 servicemen

ABAKAN /Republic of Khakasia/, August 28. /TASS/. About 300,000 troops and more than 1,000 aircraft are set to take part in the Vostok-2018 (East-2018) international strategic drills in Russia in September, Russian Defense Minister Army General Sergei Shoigu told journalists on Tuesday.

Russia’s largest maneuvers Zapad-2017 (West-2017) held last year jointly with Belarus involved about 12,700 troops. From January 1, 2018, the size of the Russian Armed Forces stands at 1,902,758 personnel, including 1,013,628 servicemen.

According to the defense minister, Russia has not held maneuvers comparable by their scope with the upcoming military drills since 1981.

"In some ways, they resemble the Zapad-81 drills but in other ways they are, perhaps, even larger. Over 1,000 aircraft, almost 300,000 servicemen at almost all the training ranges of the Central and Eastern Military Districts and, naturally, the Pacific and Northern Fleets and the Airborne Force will be fully employed," the defense minister said.

The maneuvers traditionally begin with a large series of preparatory measures: about 15 special drills for troops’ logistic support. "And, as a rule, this is coupled with a snap check announced by the Russian president, the supreme commander-in-chief, which has actually become good practice in our life and work," the defense minister said.

"Just imagine that 36,000 pieces of military hardware are simultaneously in motion: these are tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles and all this is, naturally, checked in conditions close to a combat environment," the Russian defense minister said.

The Vostok-2018 drills will be held on September 11-15 and will be the largest event of the troops’ combat training. The maneuvers have an international status and will involve troops of Russia’s Eastern and Central Military Districts, the forces of the Northern Fleet, all units and formations of the Airborne Force, long-range and military transport aircraft, and also units of China and Mongolia at one of the drills’ stages.