Russia on Tuesday launched what it has called its largest-ever military drills, with hundreds of thousands of Russian troops taking part along with Chinese soldiers in a massive show of force that has rattled the West.
The global military exercise, named Vostok-2018, will involve 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 military vehicles, 1,000 planes and 80 warships, according to Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu. To this effect, the drill will include around 300,000 Russian soldiers and officers, including 6,000 airborne troops, over 1,000 warplanes, helicopters and drones, about 36,000 artillery, and 80 combat and support ships. China's military said it has sent 3,200 soldiers, as well as 900 tanks and armor vehicles.
He added: "Russia also thinks that the worldwide reactions to its appalling behaviour over recent years - including the seizure of Crimea, aggression against Ukraine, causing and abetting untold suffering in Syria, the attempted murder of the Skripals and more - are just more indications of this "aggressive and unfriendly" attitude by the rest of the world".
The main aim was to check the military's readiness to move troops large distances and test how closely infantry and naval forces cooperated.
Will President Putin be involved?
"Russia has very strong real combat abilities and the participation of the [People's Liberation Army] in such a large-scale military exercise ... indicates China's intention to learn more valuable combat practices and lift its ability for joint combat", Mr Song said.
China has sent about 3,200 troops, 900 combat vehicles and 30 aircraft to join the drills at a Siberian firing range - a significant deployment that reflects its shift toward a full-fledged military alliance with Russian Federation.
Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said the shift away from anti-terrorism drills to more conventional war games could pave the way for greater cooperation between China and Russian Federation.
The exercise will be carried out in five army training grounds across the Sea of Japan, Bering Straits and Sea of Okhotsk.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesperson Dylan White said that the military organization has been briefed about the exercise in May and it would monitor it. "Vostok demonstrates Russia's focus on exercising large-scale conflict".
Relations between Ukraine and Russian Federation have been at a low since Crimea was annexed to Russian Federation in 2014.
At sea, the Russian fleet will deploy several frigates equipped with Kalibr missiles that have been used in Syria.
"It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time - a more assertive Russian Federation, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence", the alliance's spokesman Dylan White said last month.
The country´s war games in Eastern Europe previous year, Zapad-2017, saw 12,700 troops take part according to Moscow.
Part of Russia's response has been to increase the number of large-scale military exercises across the globe in an apparent bid to project power and ward off perceived Western aggression.