Russia Plans To Hold Largest War Games In 4 Decades Russia is preparing for massive war games in September that will include China. The message to the West: we have friends too, including China's burgeoning military
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Russia Plans To Hold Largest War Games In 4 Decades

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Russia Plans To Hold Largest War Games In 4 Decades

Russia Plans To Hold Largest War Games In 4 Decades

Russia Plans To Hold Largest War Games In 4 Decades

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/643798749/643798752" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Russia is preparing for massive war games in September that will include China. The message to the West: we have friends too, including China's burgeoning military

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Next month, the Russian military plans to hold its largest war games in four decades. The Defense Ministry says more than 300,000 soldiers will take part in the exercises known as Vostok 2018. The Russians have also invited Chinese forces to take part in the war games. The two militaries seem to be stepping up their joint training. Just this week, they joined together in what was described as an international anti-terrorism exercise. NPR's Lucian Kim traveled with the Russian military to the Ural Mountains and has this report.

LUCIAN KIM, BYLINE: At a military airfield 900 miles east of Moscow, pilots are preparing their warplanes for an exercise dubbed Peace Mission 2018.

(SOUNDBITE OF PLANE FLYING)

KIM: The purpose of the drill is to practice coordination among the region's militaries in fighting ISIS-type extremists somewhere in Central Asia.

YIN TAIDONG: (Speaking Chinese).

KIM: Senior Colonel Yin Taidong of the Chinese Air Force says that together with Russia, Kazakhstan and India, his warplanes and attack helicopters will conduct airstrikes.

(SOUNDBITE OF PLANE FLYING)

KIM: 40 miles away, as a Sukhoi fighter plane flies, top brass from eight nations, including Pakistan and four Central Asian states, are assembling at a tank firing range. Russia is keen to show off its military ties to Asia, especially since almost all of Moscow's former allies in Eastern Europe have joined NATO, which holds war games of its own.

ALEXANDER LAPIN: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: Alexander Lapin, the commander of Russia's Central Military District, says geopolitical risks are increasing in the world. And that's why Russia's joining with like-minded partners to repel any kind of threat.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: Like a sportscaster, an officer narrates the action on the battlefield. The scenario has the Russian-led multinational force trying to stop Islamic extremists from taking over Country A.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

KIM: In the distance, I see a small village. Armored vehicles are moving in. In the sky, there are warplanes providing them with air support.

(SOUNDBITE OF PLANE FLYING)

KIM: The sky is filled with smoke as Russian and Chinese warplanes drop their loads. Waves and waves of helicopters are now flying over the village, which has been surrounded by armored vehicles on all sides.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

KIM: It's not long before Country A has been liberated from the supposed terrorists - mission accomplished. One of the goals of the exercise was to create a unified command structure for a multinational force taking orders in Russian, Chinese and English.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: (Speaking Russian).

KIM: At the rehearsal for the closing parade, something's gotten lost in translation.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED INTERPRETER: The chief of the directorate of exercises will tell to the leader of exercises about our readiness to the ceremony of closing.

KIM: Still, in the end, the parade went off without a hitch.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: (Speaking Russian).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KIM: It's not goodbye for the Russian and Chinese troops, though. In less than two weeks, they'll meet again for the huge war games planned in eastern Russia. Lucian Kim, NPR News, at the Chebarkul tank range.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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