Russian, Chinese and Mongolian national flags set on armored vehicles develop in the wind during a military exercises on training ground "Tsugol", about 250 kilometers (156 miles ) south-east of the city of Chita during the military exercises Vostok 2018 in Eastern Siberia, Russia, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. The weeklong Vostok (East) 2018 maneuvers launched Tuesday span vast expanses of Siberia and the Far East, the Arctic and the Pacific Oceans. They involve nearly 300,000 Russian troops along with 1,000 Russian aircraft and 36,000 tanks and other combat vehicles. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Last month, Russia launched a large-scale series of training exercises known as Vostok (Eat). Like last year’s Zapad (West) drills, these exercises approximate a large-scale conflict on one side of Russia’s expansive territorial claims. These drills are usually quite the spectacle, with Russian officials making a habit of lying about how large (or small) the exercises will be, and with embarrassing mistakes like a Russian helicopter firing rockets at journalists last year.
Despite such setbacks, these drills do tend to be an impressive display of Russia’s latest and greatest military capabilities. Vostok drew particular interest from the international community because China, another of America’s competitors, opted to participate. China has the largest standing army in the world and a rapidly expanding Navy. Technological and logistical limitations, however, prevents China from asserting its large military as leverage beyond its borders. China is also severely lacking in operational experience, something they hope to offset through joint training operations with Russia and increased drone flights over the Middle East.