Russia, China become battle buddies at Vostok 2018

By On September 16, 2018

Russia, China become battle buddies at Vostok 2018

  • Russian, Chinese, and Mongolian flags fly from vehicles at the head of a parade in review at the Tsugol training ground in Eastern Russia, near the Chinese and Mongolian borders.
  • Senior officers from China's PLA and PLA Marines ride in a Russian vehicle as part of a review of troops at the main stage of Vostok 2018, at the Tsugol range in Russia's far east.
  • Thousands of vehicles and weapons systems were staged for the main phase of the exercise.
  • This is the biggest military exercise in 40 yearsâ€"the last one this big was under Brezhnev.
  • A Russian soldier aims an anti-drone weapon during a drone launch and retrieval ex ercise during Vostok 2018. The weapon is built by the company Kalashnikov Concern, which adopted that name mere months before the death of Gen. Mikhail Kalashnikov, who designed the (in)famous AK-47.
  • A serviceman releases a drone during the main stage of the Vostok 2018 large-scale military exercise held by the Russian Armed Forces and involving troops from China and Mongolia.
  • A Chinese PLA serviceman takes a selfie on his Huawei P10 during the main stage Vostok 2018. About 3,500 PLA soldiers and marines participated in the joint phase of the war games.
  • Two paratroopers prepare to board a Russian transport for a joint air assault exercise.
  • Russian paratroopers board an Ilyushin Il-76 transport for an aerial assault exercise.
  • Ilyushin Il-76 on the runway.
  • A Beriev A-50 airborne warning and air control plane.
  • A Tupolev Tu-22M (NATO designation "Backfire") bomber was a participant in the aerial assault exercise.
  • As a supersonic platform for Russia's new anti-ship missiles, the 'Backfire" was (and is) considered a threat to surface Navy forces.
  • A column of Russian Sprut SD self-propelled anti-tank guns stands waiting for review.
  • Rows of Russian T-72 tanks with reactive armor blocks next to and Sprut SD self-propelled anti-tank guns.
  • A row of T-80s (right) and more T-72s and other armor. That's a lot of tanks.
  • A T-80 on parade.
  • Tanks, as far as the eye can see.
  • The Chinese brought some of their ZTZ Type 96A main battle tanks as well.
  • Another Type 96A
  • Patriotic tank pose.
  • Russian Buk surface-to-air missile carriers, like the one that is alleged to have shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.
  • A Russian Kamaz-63969 Typhoon MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle, a six-wheeled armored transport truck. Russia has deployed these to Syria as reconnaissan ce vehicles.
  • PLA soldiers stand at attention.
  • The big boom: a 9K720 Iskander short-range ballistic missile-launcher unit. Two Iskander missiles were launched as part of the war games. Iskanders deployed to Kaliningrad were seen by NATO as a violation of the IMF treaty.
  • A Russian Army band played as the Russian, Chinese, and Mongolian participants in the exercise were honored.
  • A Chinese ST1 tank destroyerâ€"basically an anti-tank gun on an armored truck.
  • A little more artillery: the Chinese PLZ-07 122mm self-propelled howitzer.
  • Russian 2S19 Msta Howitzers. These are 152.4 mm (6-inch) guns with a range of 62 km (38.525 miles). They've been fired in the Donbass region of Ukraine.
  • BMP-2 armored personnel carriers with 30mm guns, another Russian Army mainstay.
  • Paratroopers parade in review in their BMP 2s.
  • All sorts of BMPs were on the range
  • Russian marines on parade in their BTR-82 amphibious assault vehicles.
  • China's Type 07 wheeled infantry vehicle is the PLA's equivalent.
  • These Russian soldiers look like they could use a break.

The last time that Russia mounted a military exercise the size of this week's Vostok 2018 event, "Russia" was the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev was General Secretary, and Ronald Reagan had just been elected president of the United States. That was 1981, at the height of the Cold War. Now, with a distinct chill in relations with the Unite d States well underway, the Russian Federation has put over 300,000 troops in the fieldâ€"alongside tens of thousands of tanks, helicopters, and weapons of every sortâ€"for a huge war game in Russia's far eastern reaches. And the country has invited the Chinese People's Liberation Army to play along, as well as the Mongolian General Purpose Force.

Vostok 2018 wrapped up on September 14, but it started a whole new wrinkle in international affairs. Russia and China have agreed to continue to conduct joint military exercises, as the interests of Russia and China (once far apart) begin to align in response to US military power and a bellicose President Donald Trump. The photos provided by the Russian Ministry of Defense illustrate a military bromance. Presidents Putin and Xi had a breakfast of blinis together in Vladivostok.

To calm nervous Europeans, the Russian Foreign Ministry reassured everyone that they were not pretending to fight NATO. "In the exercis e, the Russian forces playing the role of an opponent never use NATO uniform or weapons or selected English-speaking personnel, contrary to NATO's frequent practice of using Russian speakers wearing Soviet or Russian uniforms and armed with Russian weapons and equipment to impersonate a likely enemy," Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister, Colonel General Alexander Fomin said. "Aware of how sensitive this aspect is and being open-hearted as we are, we will stick to our customary mode of action further on."

Russia test-fired two Iskander short-range ballistic missiles during the maneuvers, and, if you believe Pravda, tested invisible missiles.

But not everything at Vostok 2018 may have gone off completely without a hitch:

Vostok 2018 gave the world a chance to get a look at some of the weapons that have been getting some use in Syria and eastern Ukraine. And it showed that Russia no longer sees China as an adversary but as a potential military a lly, something that is sure to get NATO's (and Washington's) attention.

Listing image by Russian Ministry of Defense

Sean Gallagher Sean is Ars Technica's IT and National Security Editor. A former Navy officer, systems administrator, and network systems integrator with 20 years of IT journalism experience, he lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland.Source: Google News Russia | Netizen 24 Russia

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