Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Moscow, Russian Federation (4E) – Cash-strapped Russia, a country that can’t even afford to pay its pensioners, will stage its biggest war games since the 1980s in a theatrical ploy to convince the world its barking military has some bite to it, however feeble.
Moscow had to go out of its way to justify the immense cost of this wasteful display of Russia’s alleged military power. This war game comes at a time when angry pensioners are protesting Vladimir Putin’s harsh pension reforms that will rob elderly Russians of their rightful pensions because Russia doesn’t have the money to pay these pensions.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov defended the drills and said spending state funds on the exercise and Russian defense was “justified, necessary and the only option,” despite the country’s worsening economic problems that will lead to a recession.
Vostok 2018, or East 18, to be held from, Sept. 11 to 15 at selectes sites east of the Ural Mountains will involve almost 300,000 men of the Russian Ground Forces (VSRF); over 36,000 pieces of military equipment (tanks, armored fighting vehicles, trucks, artillery pieces, and missile defense systems, among others) and 1,000 aircraft of both the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) and the VSRF.
In addition, China and Mongolia will participate in Vostok 2018. The People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) will deploy 3,200 troops, more than 900 pieces of equipment and 30 aircraft. Chinese troops will also participate in exercises att the Tsugol training range in the Trans-Baikal region.
Vostok 2018 will simulate large-scale conventional warfare. Defense minister Gen. Sergey Shoigu said the war game will be “on an unprecedented scale both in terms of the area covered and in terms of the numbers” of military forces.
“Imagine 36,000 pieces of military equipment moving together at the same time — tanks, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles. And all of this, of course, in conditions as close to combat as possible.”
“This will be something of a repeat of Zapad 81, but in some senses even bigger,” said Gen. Shoigu.
Held in 1981 by the defunct Sovietr Army of communist Russia, Zapad 81 involved 100,000 to 150,000 troops and were the largest Soviet military exercises ever held.
Vostok 2018 come as Russia reels from the latest round of U.S. sanctions and faces even harsher ones over its alleged role in a nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom last March.
NATO said Vostok 2018 showed “a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defence budget and its military presence.”
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