Russia has launched its biggest war games in decades with hundreds of thousands of troops, thousands of vehicles, aircraft and warships all taking part in the show of force launched Tuesday.
The Vostok 2018 drills are meant to test the capability of the Russian military to rapidly move and deploy large forces over long distances during a large scale engagement, reports RT.
The week-long drills will include around 300,000 Russian soldiers, 6,000 airborne troops, over 1,000 warplanes, helicopters and drones, about 36,000 armor, and 80 combat and support ships.
Also involved in the exercises will be some 3,500 Chinese troops and soldiers from Mongolia.
As RT notes, for some of those participating in the drills, this will be the first chance to display new weapons systems such as the BMD-4M air-dropped infantry fighting vehicles and Patriot pickup trucks armed with Kornet anti-tank missiles.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu says that the Vostok drills dwarf the USSR’s “Zapad-81” war games, the largest of the Soviet era.
“Imagine 36,000 military vehicles moving at the same time: tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles — and all of this, of course, in conditions as close to a combat situation as possible,” Shoigu said.
NATO has said that the drills signify “Russia’s focus on exercising large-scale conflict.”
The drills are significant at the moment as tensions between Moscow and the West have heated up over the conflict in Idlib, Syria where both Russian and Syrian forces are moving to eradicate what is reportedly the last stronghold of anti-Assad rebels inside the country.
A new report out of the Wall Street Journal confirmed that the White House is now in direct talks with the U.K. and France over plans for a possible third round of coordinated strikes on Syria should the Syrian Army deploy chemical weapons in the Idlib assault.
Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said that any response from the U.S. would be much greater than the airstrikes launched in April 2017, and April 2018.
Beyond it the multiple warnings issued over the last few weeks, Russia has once against issued a warning that anti-Assad Rebels are gearing up to stage a false flag chemical attack to blame the Syrian army in order spark a violent response from western militaries.
Citing official Moscow Sources, Russia’s Sputnik News reports:
According to the information received from inhabitants of Idlib province, militants are now filming a staged provocation in the city of Jisr al-Shugur, where “chemical weapons” are depicted as being used by the Syrian army against civilians. The film crews of several Middle Eastern TV channels arrived in Jisr al-Shugur in the morning, as well as the regional affiliate of one of the main American television news networks”, the Reconciliation Center said.
Bolton addressed the accusations of staged chemical attack in the WSJ on Tuesdy, saying: “That has to be, in the history of propaganda in the 20th and 21st centuries, one of the most outrageous claims that I can think of.”
With all that said, Zero Hedge notes that in Idlib, some truly strange theatrics have already begun …
Meanwhile, in Idlib, some truly strange theatrics have already begun, with Al Jazeera depicting locals preparing paper cups, bags and cotton, which are somehow supposed to serve as “chemical protective” gear. Reuters has also promoted some of the images of residents with plastic bags over their heads in recent coverage.
The Al Jazeera (AJ+) report aired late last week, and ranks as one of the more bizarre propaganda stunts we’ve seen from the Qatar-based channel.
For starters, nerve agents are absorbed through the skin, and quite obviously a little cotton and charcoal can do nothing to protect from a real gas attack.
Chemical attack imminent? Syrians are turning charcoal and cotton into homemade masks. pic.twitter.com/xY88okS8c5
— AJ+ (@ajplus) September 7, 2018
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