Russia Holds Massive Military Drill Aimed at China, Japan
Image Credit: Wikicommons

Russia Holds Massive Military Drill Aimed at China, Japan


Russia is holding its biggest war games since the era of the Soviet Union in its Far East region that borders on China, Japan and Korea.

President Vladimir Putin ordered the snap drill on Friday when he told the Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu to inform countries like China that border on where the drill will be held. It is the third such snap drill to be held by Russia since Putin reassumed the office of the presidency.

Putin has praised holding snap drills as the best way to demonstrate combat readiness.

According to Russian media sources, “160,000 servicemen, 1000 tanks, 130 planes and 70 ships” are participating in the drills, which will continue through July 20.

A statement released by Russia’s Defense Ministry said: “The main purpose of the activities is to check the readiness of the military units to perform assigned tasks and evaluate the level of personnel’s training and technical preparation as well as the level of equipment of units with arms and military equipment.”

Many Russian officials emphasized that the participating troops did not know their final destination or explicit objective at the beginning of the drill, in an apparent effort to make the games more realistic.

Officials also emphasized that the military drills were not aimed at any particular nation(s), but rather just geared towards enhancing the readiness of Russian combat troops.

This seemed to be called into question on Tuesday when Putin himself visited troops participating in the drill on Sakhalin Island, which is just north of Japan.

A retired Russian general told the BBC that “The Sakhalin part of the maneuvers was intended to simulate a response to a hypothetical attack by Japanese and U.S. forces.”

Russia and Japan dispute the Kuril Islands, albeit since taking office Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made a valiant effort to settle this dispute in order to direct both sides’ attention to China’s rising military might.

Similarly, Alexander Khramchikhin, whom the BBC describes as an independent Moscow-based military analyst, told the UK broadcaster “the land part of the exercise is directed at China, while the sea and island part of it is aimed at Japan.”

As this suggests, the drills illustrate just how fraught Russian-Chinese relations remain despite the recent notable improvements in certain areas, like energy and military cooperation (last week Russia and China held their largest joint naval exercises.)

In particular, many Russian officials strongly suspect China of trying to mount a long-term annexation strategy over Russia’s Far East, due to the large number of Chinese immigrants who have populated the area in recent years. Other countries, notably the U.S. in the 19th Century, have used similar strategies to expand their territory.

As Vassily Mikheev, deputy director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics (IMEMO), part of Russia’s Academy of Sciences, told the American scholar David Shambaugh in 2009:

“Anti-Chinese feelings are very strong [in Russia] and changing. There is a feeling that China wants to conquer the Russian Far East. In the past five to six years, these primitive anti-China sentiments are being joined by new anti-China feelings based on a fear of economic threat.”

Here’s an admittedly unimpressive video of the drill, courtesy of Russia Today:

August 14, 2013 at 07:31

@9.dashed.brain, @a_canadian_observer, @Little Helmsman

I see plenty of Chinese haters here. When China makes pease with Russia and resolved all border dispute, the haters call Chinese coward, meek. When China asserts her claim against Japan, they say Chinese are aggressor, warmonger, etc. Why? Military strength is NOT the reason. Note: Japan probably has the second best navy in the world + backing of US. So, why does China wants to offend Japan and not Russia?

As to the Philippines, it has always been the one that is most thuggish and lawless - remember how they "accidentally" shot an unarmed Taiwanese fisherman? (with 57 bullet hole found in the boats)

tom elis
August 11, 2013 at 16:02

russia and america has some issues, no doubt about it, but make no mistake, if there is ever going to be a clash, it wont be between russia and america. these two countriese fought together in the second world war (both know each others military capabilitiese and determination). If there is going to be clash in this area, it will be russia and america vs china, north korea. Chinas ambition to annexe the far east of russia, where there is already a high population of chinese immigrats, will force russia to close its borders with china, then lets see what happens. Russia and America have sort of a love hate relationship, but both need each other to create stabilty and some form of control over radicals who are intent on domination and intimidation over other countrises etc, they will not let this happen. I am willing to bet that russia and america will become the closest of aliese.


no chance
January 26, 2014 at 17:55

the best way to conquer china is still thru the gobi desert via the tarim basin pass in east turkestan, the russian 1 railroad 100 miles from china and mongolia border (china before 1840) isnt gonna be where russia will send their troops frpm, good luck attacking china thru east turkestan a switzerland the size of europe. china just has to invade 200 miles pass the chinese and mongolian border to kill all 40 million russians in siberia, good luck running guerrila war in siberia if they could they would live there instead of entirely inside of china (before 1840) including their single railroad communication, china has nothing to worry about russia, the northern european plain is mobile warfare china is siege warfare, its like invading switzerland in such ridiculous scale and size, entire china is mountains and valey and gets worse in their new territories in the west. chinas main threat is still by sea, and if the war is inside the border of the western pacific china is a 3 million square mile unsinkable carrier with tunnels like switzerland for national redoubt but instead of guns nuclear m issiles in tunnels, NATO stands no chance if they aly with russia 40 million russians will die they live entirely inside of chinas borders before 1840 none of them live in siberia, their entire industry would be lost, germany would turn on russia the moment russia looses its siberian national redoubt and ally with china, all countries in the northern european plains must win by attacking first that is the nature of mobile warfare, china and countries sharing border with russia in the northern european plain are closer cally than russia is with them cuz russia is the big bully there

Sardonic Veritas
August 3, 2013 at 04:15

Part of the drill was a joint naval exercise with China….

An inevitable result of the Asia pivot is that China will create a military alliance with Russia. What are the goals of the Asia pivot anyway, to spend an astronomical amount of money that benefits countries like Japan the most, while losing out with the economic benefits with working with the second largest economy?

July 25, 2013 at 21:02

What a load full of propagandized croak. Russia's drill was obvious to counter USA efforts pivot to Asia starting now. USA is the one their after.They're clearly sending a message to US to tread carefully when this farway superpower comes to their own backyard.

July 19, 2013 at 19:46

Russia need to be more assertive to keeps U S and her NATO allies at bay and Putin is doing exactly that.

January 26, 2014 at 17:47

Funny, I but I know a lot of Ukrainians right now who view Russia as the bully and meddling in their affairs to associate with the Europeans.
July 19, 2013 at 02:01

Will a more assertive Russia in Asia give 'new europe' and E. Asians common security interests and give impetus to Europe's Pivot to Asia?

New Europe and Asian security – my enemy’s enemy?

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