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Russia begins massive war drill close to China border

Around 20,000 troops, 70 warplanes and 30 warships are expected to take part in Vostok 2010.

MOSCOW (PTI): Russia is beginning a 10-day unprecedented military drill in the eastern parts of the country involving tens of thousands of troops, air and naval combat units, seen as Moscow's largest post-Soviet wargames close to the borders with China.

Chief of the General Staff Army Gen Nikolai Makarov on Monday said the strategic exercise, codenamed Vostok 2010 (Orient-2010), will take place on June 29 through July 8 involving combat units from the Far Eastern, Siberian and Volga-Urals military districts, as well as the Pacific Fleet.

“This exercise... is not directed against any concrete country or military-political bloc. It has a purely defensive nature in ensuring the security and national interests of the state in the Far East,” Gen Makarov underscored amid the media speculations about Moscow preparing for war with China.

As part of the drills, the Armed Forces will practice the deployment of additional troops in Siberia and the Far East to reinforce the existing military contingent in the region in case of a military conflict, he said.

Gen. Nikolai Makarov had earliar said that Vostok 2010 will include the firing of live ammunition, simulated airborne assaults and amphibious assault landings.

According to RIA Novosti, at least 20,000 troops, up to 70 warplanes and 30 warships will participate in the wargames.

As part of the preparations for the wargames Russia has been practicing the redeployment of its Sukhoi Su-24M and Su-34 bombers from western bases to the Far East with two mid-air refuelling.

The state-run Rossiya TV showed impressive footage of mid-air refuelling of latest multirole Su-34 bombers over the Urals, half way to their destination in the Far East.

Earlier reports suggest that crack combat units of the Russian Northern and Black Sea Fleets, including nuclear powered 'Pyotr Veliky' (Peter-the-Great) cruiser will also take part in the wargames in the close vicinity of China, Japan and two Koreas.

Last year, Russia and Belarus had held similar wargames in the west, simulating attack and counter-attack on NATO member states along the Russian borders.

Russia holds Vostok strategic command-and-staff exercises every two years.

In 2009, the Russian military conducted the Caucasus 2009, Zapad 2009 and Ladoga 2009 strategic exercises, and 15 brigade-level and 161 battalion-level drills.


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