Steel march: Putin reviews troops & armor on parade during massive military drills (PHOTO, VIDEO)
President Putin opened a spectacular troop review that saw Russian and Chinese armor, troops and warplanes parade through a training ground in Siberia. The parade was part of the Vostok 2018 exercise, the biggest in decades.
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived on Thursday to observe the main part of the Vostok 2018 war games, in which Russian, Chinese, and Mongolian troops trained defensive and offensive operations. Scores of tanks, heavy artillery, missile systems and combat jets have been involved, as well as thousands of soldiers and officers.
President Putin also opened a grand parade at the Russian Army’s Tsugol training range and praised the troops for their performance in the military exercise. He reiterated, however, that the display of military might is not directed against anyone, as Russia seeks “constructive partnership.”
The troop review started with light armored jeeps carrying both Russian and Chinese flags through the parade grounds, followed by four fighter jets flying over the area.
Dozens of Russian Army BMP-2 fighting vehicles came next, making way for an array of armored machines, including the BTR-82, Tiger and Typhoon personnel carriers.
T-72B3 tanks, derived from the T-72 family, followed, accompanied by Chinese Type 99 tanks and Type 08 fighting vehicles.
Russian Iskander-M tactical missiles, TOS-1 flamethrowers, as well as Tornado multiple launch rocket systems were also seen in the parade.
A pack of helicopters, tactical bombers, and fighter jets made spectacular fly-pasts at the end of the parade. The Russian aircraft were joined by several Chinese Xian JH-7 bombers and Z-19 attack helicopters.
As the parade came to a close, Putin awarded medals to Russian and Chinese officers who stood out during the drills.
Vostok 2018 is the largest military exercise held by Russia in over three decades. The drills have seen troops from Russia, China, and Mongolia hone their skills in conventional warfare in the east of Russia. The Russian Navy also trained in the Sea of Japan, the Bering Sea, and the Sea of Okhotsk.
The exercise involves around 300,000 Russian soldiers, including 6,000 airborne troops, over 1,000 warplanes, helicopters and drones, about 36,000 armor, and 80 combat and support ships. To ensure full transparency, the Russian Defense Ministry invited 87 observers from 57 countries to the event.
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