MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin on Thursday promised to strengthen the army and supply it with new generation weapons, as he travelled to watch Russia’s biggest war games since the fall of the Soviet Union.
The Vostok-2018 (East-2018) drills taking place in eastern Siberia close to the border with China involve 300,000 Russian troops as well as joint exercises with the Chinese army.
“This is the first time our army and fleet have undergone such a difficult and large-scale test,” Putin said in comments published on the Kremlin website.
The exercises, that involve over a thousand military aircraft as well as up to 36,000 tanks, come amid tense relations between Russia and the West that have fallen to a post-Cold War low.
Addressing a gathering of the soldiers, Putin said Russia was a peaceful country ready for cooperation with any state interested in partnership, but that it was a soldier’s duty to be ready to defend his country and its allies.
“Therefore we are going to further strengthen our armed forces, supply them with the latest generations of weapons and equipment, develop international military partnership,” Putin said.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Keith Weir)