Vostok 2018

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The Russian MoD's collage for the Vostok 2018 exercise
Chief of the General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov with Eastern Military District commander Colonel General Alexander Zhuravlyov at the exercise
A Russian Mil Mi-8 helicopter

Vostok 2018 (Russian: Восток 2018, lit.'East 2018'[note 1][1]) was a large-scale Russian military exercise, held from 11 to 17 September 2018, throughout Siberia and the Russian Far East in the Eastern Military District.[2][3][4] The exercise involved units from the Army, Air Force and Navy.[5] China and Mongolia, which also participated, became the first countries outside of the former Soviet Union to join the Vostok exercises.[6][7][8]


In late August 2018, Russian Minister of Defence Sergey Shoygu said the exercise will be the largest to be held in Russia since Zapad-81 held by the Soviet Union in 1981.[5][9][10] The Zapad exercises in 1981 involved about 100,000 to 150,000 troops and were the largest Soviet military exercises ever held.[9] Shoygu later reported that nearly 300,000 troops would be taking part in the drills along with 36,000 vehicles and 1,000 aircraft.[2][11] 80 warships are also involved in the exercise.[3] Vostok 2018 was double the size of the previous exercise in the region, Vostok 2014.[3]

Sergey Shoygu, Russian Minister of Defence, boasted about the drills saying, "Imagine 36,000 military vehicles moving at the same time: tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles – and all of this, of course, in conditions as close to a combat situation as possible."[12]

Deputy Defence Minister Colonel General Alexander Fomin reported that 91 foreign observers from 57 countries would be attending the exercise.[13] Vostok 2018 took place during a time of deteriorating relations between Russia and the West.[14]

China and Mongolia too participated in the military exercise. Around 3,500 troops from the People's Liberation Army had taken part.[12]

Before the exercise, Beijing reported that its troops would be participating at the Tsugol training range in the Trans-Baikal region.[1] The Chinese involvement was intended to improve Sino-Russian military relations, as well as to prevent Chinese concern about military exercises near their border.[1] The joint exercise had also allowed Russia to demonstrate it was not militarily isolated.[15]

Again before the exercise, there are reports that there will be sharing of information between the Russian Armed Forces and the People's Liberation Army on combat lessons from the Syrian Civil War.[16]

The Military Band of the Eastern Military District during the opening parade of Vostok 2018.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin visited the drills after attending the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Russian exercises have often been named according to their location in the country, for example "Vostok", literally "East", or "Zapad", literally "West".


  1. ^ a b c Majumdar, Dave (23 August 2018). "Vostok-2018: Russia (with China Making a Guest Appearance) Set for Largest Wargames in over Three Decades". The National Interest. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Russia war games: Biggest since Cold War 'justified'". BBC News. 28 August 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Hecimovic, Arnel (13 September 2018). "Vostok-2018: Russia launches biggest post-Soviet war games – in pictures". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  4. ^ "« Vostok 2018 », l'entraînement militaire géant de la Russie". Le Monde (in French). 13 September 2018. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Russian military on alert for massive war games said to be the largest since Soviet games in the '80s". Military Times. Associated Press. 20 August 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  6. ^ Gorenburg, Dmitry (13 September 2018). "5 things to know about Russia's Vostok-2018 military exercises". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  7. ^ Johnson, Dave (20 December 2018). "VOSTOK 2018: Ten years of Russian strategic exercises and warfare preparation". NATO Review. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  8. ^ Boulègue, Mathieu (29 September 2018). "What Russia's Vostok-2018 exercises mean for China and the West". The Hill. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  9. ^ a b Brown, Daniel (20 August 2018). "Russia just put its military on high alert ahead of massive war games that'll be 'unprecedented in scale'". Business Insider. Associated Press. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Шойгу: в сентябре в РФ пройдут самые масштабные маневры с 1981 года" (in Russian). TASS. 28 August 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  11. ^ Fiorenza, Nicholas (29 August 2018). "Russia outlines massive 'Vostok 2018' exercise". Jane's Defence Weekly. Archived from the original on 29 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  12. ^ a b Mirza, Yead (2 July 2019). "Russia's Growing Engagements in Asia Pacific". Oped Column. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  13. ^ Ali, Mohammad (6 September 2018). "Russia's Vostok-2018 Military Drills Not Anti-NATO - Deputy Defense Minister". UrduPoint. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  14. ^ Yang, Zi (17 September 2018). "Vostok 2018: Russia and China's Diverging Common Interests". The Diplomat. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  15. ^ Chhor, Khatya (30 August 2018). "Sensing threats from the West, Russia prepares to flex its military muscle". France 24. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  16. ^ Chan, Minnie (29 August 2018). "Vostok 2018 war games: China's chance to learn Russia's military lessons from Syria". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  17. ^ "Putin to visit Vostok-2018 military drills after economic forum in Vladivostok". TASS. 6 September 2018. Retrieved 6 September 2018.