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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping were involved in talks at an economic forum in Vladivostok in Russia's far east yesterday.

Taking part in the drills are around 300,000 Russian soldiers, 36,000 military vehicles, 80 ships and 1,000 aircraft, helicopters and drones, as well as 3,500 Chinese troops.

Chinese President Xi for his part said the two countries' "friendship is getting stronger all the time".

"Imagine 36,000 military vehicles moving at the same time: tanks, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles - and all of this, of course, in conditions as close to a combat situation as possible", Shoigu said.

More than 25 warships and around 30 planes took part in the drills, as Russian Federation increased its military presence in Syria where it intervened to help the Bashar al-Assad regime in 2015.

"We have a trusting relationship [with China] in the spheres of politics, security, and defense", Putin said at the start of his meeting with Xi.

- The exercise will be spread across five army training grounds, four airbases and areas in the Sea of Japan, Bering Straits and Sea of Okhotsk.

Eighty warships are taking part and the Russian fleet is deploying several frigates equipped with Kalibr missiles - the same type that been used in Syria.

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Anti-aircraft technology will be at the heart of the drills today, but the main exercises will be held tomorrow, according to the country's defence ministry.

Maintaining Russia's defence capabilities is "justified as rival powers are frequently quite aggressive and unfriendly", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in August in comments carried by state news agency, TASS.

The maneuvers, the largest war games Russian Federation ever has had, showcase burgeoning military ties between Moscow and Beijing amid their tensions with the U.S.

Relations between the West and Russia sharply deteriorated after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and a pro-Russian rebellion broke out in eastern Ukraine.

The last war games in Vostok were in 2014 but were nearly half of the size with 155,000 soldiers taking part.

The war games are held a year after Russian Federation staged major drills in the country's west last September, unnerving neighbouring former Soviet republics.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov argued the exercises were "justified" in "the current worldwide situation" given "aggressive and unfriendly" attitudes towards Russian Federation.

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".


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