At 6.6 million square miles, Russia is so large that it is located in both Europe and Asia.
Its capital and most influential city, Moscow, is in Europe. So that’s the continent most closely associated with the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Lately, Russia seems intent on extending its “reach” farther into Asia. And that includes conducting military drills along with China, Pakistan and India.
What does that mean for the United States? If nothing else, the drills are intended to send us a message. And the message is that if other superpowers were to unite, the West could be in trouble.
First Joint Exercise for India and Pakistan
In late August, “Peace Mission 2018” was held. It was organized under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a grouping of Eurasian nations.
Approximately 3,000 troops participated from seven of the eight member countries. The members are China, Russia, Pakistan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
This was the first time ever that rivals India and Pakistan have taken part in a joint military exercise.
Among those witnessing the drills were Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russia’s General Staff, and General Li Zuocheng from China’s People’s Liberation Army. Others were Lieutenant General Satish Dua of India and General Zubair Hayat of Pakistan.
Simulation Targets “Extremists”
The objective of Peace Mission 2018? To practice a response to a hypothetical Islamic extremist takeover of a “village” in Central Asia.
The multinational air force assembled 900 miles east of Moscow. Warplanes dropped their loads on the “terrorists,” and armored vehicles from the Russian-led coalition closed in.
Russian and Chinese attack helicopters followed in this exercise held at the Chebarkul tank range in Russia.
Also involved were the Russian gun trucks used recently in Syria.
Vostok-2018 the Main Act
As impressive as this cooperative display of force was, it was just a warm-up. In mid-September, an even larger war games scenario played out called Vostok-2018 (or East-2018).
This joint military exercise conducted by Russia, China and Mongolia was the most massive since the Cold War era. One NATO member, Turkey, was also invited to participate.
Nearly 300,000 troops and 1,000 aircraft took part in exercises designed to simulate large-scale warfare.
Vostok-2018 took place east of the Ural Mountains. That meant Moscow was not required to notify the West about it. Or invite observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Russia Becoming ‘More Assertive’
Military exercises are nothing new. The U.S. engages in war games regularly with its NATO allies.
But almost all Russia’s former eastern European allies have become NATO members. So now Russia seems to take pleasure in showing off its military ties to Asia.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said spending state funds on the country’s defense capabilities was” justified, necessary and the only option.”
Dylan White; a NATO spokesperson, said the drill showed “a more assertive Russia.” He added that the country is “significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence.”
Russia and China Getting Chummier
Prior to Vostok-2018, reports were circulating. They indicated the Russian Armed Forces and the People’s Liberation Army were sharing information.
Especially in connection with combat lessons learned during the Syrian Civil War.
Russia and China have never been the best of friends. Even with this recent cooperation, they are uneasy acquaintances at best.
But their military relations could continue to improve due to these joint exercises. And then their political relations might improve as well.
Is WW3 on Horizon?
Watching video of Vostok-2018 was sobering to say the least. There was a seemingly endless line of tanks on the ground and fighter jets roaring overhead.
Then I heard Russian President Vladimir Putin vow to strengthen his already mighty army and supply it with even more weapons. It sent a chill down my spine.
All I could think about was World War III.
If you remember, earlier this summer we also let you know a Russian television anchor on a large news station was telling his viewers how to prepare for World War III.
The advice included information about bomb shelters, the best food to pack and how iodine can protect against radiation.
We all hope and pray it will never happen. But at the same time, it’s important to stop and think about what this type of catastrophic event would mean for you and your family if you haven’t already.
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