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Russian president Vladimir Putin visited his country’s largest war games since 1981 on Thursday, and pledged to strengthen and re-arm the country’s forces.

Russian, Chinese and Mongolian troops and military equipment parade at the end of the day of the Vostok-2018 (East-2018) military drills at Tsugol training ground not far from the Chinese and Mongolian border in Siberia, on September 13, 2018. (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP)MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images
Russian, Chinese and Mongolian troops and military equipment parade at the 2018 military drills at Tsugol training ground near the Chinese and Mongolian border in Siberia © Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty

More than 300,000 soldiers from Russia and China are taking part in the land, air and sea exercises this week, in a show of strength and friendship between Moscow and Beijing.

Chinese troops march at the training ground
Chinese troops march at the training ground © Sergei Grits/AP

The exercises, which are taking place in Siberia, Russia’s far east and on its Pacific coast, involve 36,000 tanks and come amid difficult relations between the west and Russia, and souring ties between China and the US.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, awards a Russian serviceman as he attends a military exercises on training ground
Russian president Vladimir Putin, right, awards a Russian serviceman © Alexei Nikolsky/AP

Accepting salutes from marching soldiers and tanks flying Chinese flags, Mr Putin said Russia was a peaceful country that wanted co-operation with foreign states but needed to protect its and its allies’ sovereignty. 

Russian, Chinese and Mongolian troops and military equipment parade at the end of the day of the Vostok-2018 (East-2018) military drills at Tsugol training ground not far from the Chinese and Mongolian border in Siberia, on September 13, 2018. (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP)MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images
Russian, Chinese and Mongolian troops and military equipment parade © Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty

“Therefore, we are going to further strengthen our armed forces, supply them with the latest generations of weapons and equipment,” Mr Putin told troops.

MANDATORY CREDIT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES Mandatory Credit: Photo by RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9881124b) A handout photo made available by the Russian Ministry of Defence on 13 September 2018 shows Russian military helicopters during a live firing drill at the Vostok 2018 (East 2018) military maneuvers, on the military range Tsogol, Zabaykalsky Kray, Russia, 07 September 2018. The exercises are the biggest since the 1981 military exercises and involve forces of two military districts (central and far east) including 297,000 military servicemen, more than 1,000 different military aircrafts, up to 36,000 tanks, armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and other vehicles, plus 80 warships. Army forces from China and Mongolia will take part in the exercises. The Vostok 2018 exercises run from 11 to 17 September in Russia's Far East. Russia's biggest military maneuvers Vostok 2018, Tsogul, Russian Federation - 07 Sep 2018
Russian military helicopters fly during a live firing dril © Russian Defence Ministry Press/EPA

The annual war games involve simulating attacks on enemies or repelling invasions from border countries. Analysts say that China’s participation — the first ever country not from the former Soviet Union to be invited — shows the depth of the Asian neighbours’ friendship.

A Chinese officer takes a photo of Chinese troops as they parade during a military exercises on training ground
A Chinese officer takes a photo of Chinese troops © Sergei Grits/AP

“My special commendation to the servicemen of the People’s Republic of China,” Mr Putin said. “Our combat brotherhood has solid longstanding traditions.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, greets members of the Russian youth patriotic organizations at the training ground
Mr Putin greets members of the Russian youth patriotic organisations © Alexei Nikolsky/AP

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