Major military exercise in eastern Russia

Russia began its biggest military exercise since Soviet times on Tuesday. Up to 300,000 soldiers are to take part - around 3,000 of them from China. The exercises, dubbed Vostok 2018, are taking place in eastern Russia and will continue until the weekend. What is the message behind them?

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Korrespondent (UA) /

The illusion of might

The military exercises are just another example of Russia flexing its muscles to show its supposed strength, military expert Oleg Zhdanov posits on website Korrespondent:

“The massive exercises were scheduled to show that Russia could cause problems for the whole world. And this is also why the huge number of participants was announced, although it has dwindled considerably compared to last year. For Zapad 2017 400,000 participants were initially announced but the number of those who actually took part in the exercises dropped to 100,000. Currently 300,000 participants are announced. ... And to convince everyone that this number will be respected, Russia has also invited China. Around 3,000 Chinese will take part in the exercises. They probably will attend individual exercises but no one will learn what the true number of participants was.”

Večernji list (HR) /

More than just exercises

The Russian-Chinese exercises also have an economic dimension, Večernji list observes:

“The exercises coincide with the signing of an agreement on gas supplies. Two of the biggest countries in the world are thus consolidating their political and economic alliance, underscoring it with these joint military exercises. As with all agreements, this one too has been described as historic, but it has an annex. Putin announced that both countries would start to use their own currencies more instead of the dollar in their mutual trading. ... This is the Russian-Chinese answer to US threats of tougher sanctions against Russia and new tariffs for China. Trump intensifies the economic war with Moscow and Beijing and they respond with economic measures and joint military exercises.”

BNS (LT) /

Time to jangle Russia's nerves

In a commentary for BNS news agency, British journalist Edward Lucas calls on the Western states to finally seize the initiative:

“The Kremlin chooses when to raise the temperature, and when to lower it. We - the countries of the European Union and NATO - are left scratching our heads and arguing how to respond. ... Let us increase cohesion and resilience - and take the initiative, jangling Russian nerves for a change. Increasing American military assistance to Ukraine, for example, would help deter any escalation in the east. ... Best of all would be to clean up our financial system, which allows the worst people in the world (including rich Russians) to steal and hide money and peddle influence.”