Putin flexes military muscles with Russian drills on the Sea of Japan

Moscow showed off its military might today as Russian warships, tanks, planes and helicopters staged a mock invasion on a beach in the Kremlin’s largest military drills since the fall of the Soviet Union. 

Tanks and marines were seen emerging from a landing craft on the shore at Klerka training ground on the Sea of Japan coast, outside the town of Slavyanka, more than 60 miles south of Vladivostok. 

Tokyo has raised concerns about the Russian military build-up in the area, particularly near the disputed Kuril Islands which are claimed by Japan in a dispute dating back to World War II. 

NATO has said it will monitor the exercises closely amid tensions with Moscow, as will the United States which has a strong military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Some 300,000 troops, more than 1,000 military aircraft and two naval fleets are taking part in this week’s Vostok-2018 drills in Siberia and waters off Russia‘s east coast.  

Some 3,500 Chinese troops were expected take part in the exercises, which run until Monday.

The Russian landing ship Oslyabya is accompanied by two planes during an exercise at Russia's military drills on Saturday 

The Russian landing ship Oslyabya is accompanied by two planes during an exercise at Russia's military drills on Saturday 

The Russian landing ship Oslyabya is accompanied by two planes during an exercise at Russia’s military drills on Saturday 

A tank rolls out of a Russian landing ship while two helicopters circle above the beach in a mock landing in eastern Russia 

A tank rolls out of a Russian landing ship while two helicopters circle above the beach in a mock landing in eastern Russia 

A tank rolls out of a Russian landing ship while two helicopters circle above the beach in a mock landing in eastern Russia 

Three Russian tanks emerge from a landing ship on the beach at Klerka training ground on the Sea of Japan coast today 

Three Russian tanks emerge from a landing ship on the beach at Klerka training ground on the Sea of Japan coast today 

Three Russian tanks emerge from a landing ship on the beach at Klerka training ground on the Sea of Japan coast today 

A Russian sniper wearing camouflage shoots during the military exercises around 60 miles south of Vladivostok today 

A Russian sniper wearing camouflage shoots during the military exercises around 60 miles south of Vladivostok today 

A Russian sniper wearing camouflage shoots during the military exercises around 60 miles south of Vladivostok today 

The drills come amid heightened tension between Russia and the West following the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in Britain and accusations of Kremlin-sponsored efforts to interfere in elections.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin inspected the war games on Thursday, vowing in a speech to soldiers to strengthen the Russian army and supply it with new-generation weapons and equipment. 

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. 

During the earlier drills the Northern Fleet’s Vice-Admiral Kulakov destroyer and the Alexander Obrakovsky landing ship took part in a mock-up rescue operation in the Bering Sea.

Scores of paratroopers were seen leaping from a plane and descending from helicopters by ropes in the eastern Siberian territory of Zabaikalsk.

Missiles were also launched from Russia’s S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile system and its Buk medium-range missile system. 

Three Russian troops emerge from a military helicopter on the beach on the sea of Japan during the military exercises today 

Three Russian troops emerge from a military helicopter on the beach on the sea of Japan during the military exercises today 

Three Russian troops emerge from a military helicopter on the beach on the sea of Japan during the military exercises today 

A Russian officer with face paint stands with his helmet on during the exercises outside the town of Slavyanka on Saturday

A Russian officer with face paint stands with his helmet on during the exercises outside the town of Slavyanka on Saturday

A Russian officer with face paint stands with his helmet on during the exercises outside the town of Slavyanka on Saturday

The Russian army has compared the show of force to the USSR’s 1981 war games that saw between 100,000 and 150,000 Warsaw Pact soldiers take part in ‘Zapad-81’ (West-81) – the largest military exercises of the Soviet era. 

At sea, the Russian fleet is deploying several frigates equipped with Kalibr missiles that have been used in Syria. 

Putin praised Russia’s increasingly close ties with China as he met Xi at the economic forum in Vladivostok on Tuesday, saying: ‘We have trustworthy ties in political, security and defence spheres.’ 

The drills, which also include Mongolian soldiers, have been condemned by NATO as a rehearsal for ‘large-scale conflict’.  

‘It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time – a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defence budget and its military presence,’ the alliance’s spokesman Dylan White said late August.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis downplayed the significance of China’s participation.

‘I think that nations act out of their interests. I see little in the long term that aligns Russia and China,’ he said. 

The Russian landing craft Oslyabya is seen in the water during Saturday's military drills on the east coast of the country 

The Russian landing craft Oslyabya is seen in the water during Saturday's military drills on the east coast of the country 

The Russian landing craft Oslyabya is seen in the water during Saturday’s military drills on the east coast of the country 

A Russian APC driver looks on during the Vostok-2018 exercises at the Klerka training ground on the country's east coast 

A Russian APC driver looks on during the Vostok-2018 exercises at the Klerka training ground on the country's east coast 

A Russian APC driver looks on during the Vostok-2018 exercises at the Klerka training ground on the country’s east coast 

Two Russian helicopters fly towards the beach at the training ground on Saturday during the huge military drills 

Two Russian helicopters fly towards the beach at the training ground on Saturday during the huge military drills 

Two Russian helicopters fly towards the beach at the training ground on Saturday during the huge military drills 

A Russian officer with face paint prepares to take part in the military exercises outside the town of Slavyanka on Saturday

A Russian officer with face paint prepares to take part in the military exercises outside the town of Slavyanka on Saturday

A Russian officer with face paint prepares to take part in the military exercises outside the town of Slavyanka on Saturday

Two Russian soldiers take a pause during the Vostok-2018 military drills at Klerka training ground on the Sea of Japan coast

Two Russian soldiers take a pause during the Vostok-2018 military drills at Klerka training ground on the Sea of Japan coast

Two Russian soldiers take a pause during the Vostok-2018 military drills at Klerka training ground on the Sea of Japan coast

Explosions are seen during the military exercises today which have sparked fears in Tokyo over the Russian military build-up

Explosions are seen during the military exercises today which have sparked fears in Tokyo over the Russian military build-up

Explosions are seen during the military exercises today which have sparked fears in Tokyo over the Russian military build-up

A line of Russian soldiers standing by a vehicle look at the landing during the Vostok-2018 military drills on Saturday 

A line of Russian soldiers standing by a vehicle look at the landing during the Vostok-2018 military drills on Saturday 

A line of Russian soldiers standing by a vehicle look at the landing during the Vostok-2018 military drills on Saturday 

Russian officers control a landing exercise with a warship in the background during Saturday's drills on the Sea of Japan coast

Russian officers control a landing exercise with a warship in the background during Saturday's drills on the Sea of Japan coast

Russian officers control a landing exercise with a warship in the background during Saturday’s drills on the Sea of Japan coast

Two helicopters fly over the landing command ship during the military exercise on the coast of the Sea of Japan on Saturday

Two helicopters fly over the landing command ship during the military exercise on the coast of the Sea of Japan on Saturday

Two helicopters fly over the landing command ship during the military exercise on the coast of the Sea of Japan on Saturday

A military helicopter flies over a Russian battleship during the Vostok-2018 exercises on the country's east coast today 

A military helicopter flies over a Russian battleship during the Vostok-2018 exercises on the country's east coast today 

A military helicopter flies over a Russian battleship during the Vostok-2018 exercises on the country’s east coast today 

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