The Vostok-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.
Addressing a gathering of the soldiers on Thursday, 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.
The exercises, which involve more than 1,000 military aircrafts as well as up to 36,000 tanks, come amid tense relations between Russia and the West.
China sent about 3,200 troops, 900 combat vehicles, and 30 aircrafts to join the drills at a Siberian firing range – a deployment that reflects its shift towards a full-fledged military alliance with Russia.