War Games – 2022

“Would you like to play a game?” – This was asked of Matthew Broderick’s character by the WOPR (War Operation Plan Response) computer in the 1983 movie “War Games.” If you remember that film, the NORAD computer decided to play a game called “Global Thermonuclear War” and concluded that it was a “strange game,” and the only winning solution was not to play.

As tensions with the United States continue to escalate, last Thursday, September 1st, two of the world’s largest nuclear weapons holders held joint war games in eastern Russia.

Russia and its allies launched their Vostok (the Russian word for “east”) 2022 war games on that date. The “games” are still underway, scheduled to last through September 7th. More than 50,000 troops are participating, including Chinese and Indian (another nuclear power) forces. The military exercises are intended to flaunt the growing cooperation between the two nations in the face of the US. However, they also seem to be meant to show us that they have enough forces to continue their war in Ukraine and host exercises with their allies.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov addresses the international gathering of troops. Screenshot from YouTube and France 24

Activities are being held at seven ranges in the Primorsky Region of Russia as well as the sea of Japan. The Russian Defence Ministry and Tass report that approximately 50,000 troops will be involved and 140 aircraft and 60 warships. The major participating nations, in addition to the host, are China, India, Syria, Mongolia, Nicaragua, and Laos.

During the opening ceremonies, Yevkurov said, “Today, soldiers and officers of 10 states are standing in a single formation, and a total of 13 countries are taking part in the exercise. Tens of thousands of servicemen and thousands of units of equipment are performing combat training missions according to a single plan at nine training grounds in real-time.” 

The nations participating in Vostok 2022. Screenshot from YouTube via France 24

The Deputy Minister explained the tactical exercises that they would help foster their commitment to mutual understanding and cooperation and strengthen combat unity among the participating states. This is all according to the Russian News Agency, TASS. Sounds like an axis of something to me.

Remember Your History

The growing friendship between Russia and China reminds me of the Anti-Comintern Pact signed by Germany and Japan in 1936. According to sources at the World War II National Museum, “A part of the Pact kept secret entailed that neither country would help the Soviets in any way if Stalin attacked the other.” Historian Ian Kershaw characterized it in the following way, “the pact was more important for its symbolism than for its actual provisions: the two most militaristic, expansionist powers in the world had found their way to each other. Though the pact was ostensibly defensive, it had hardly enhanced the prospects for peace on either side of the globe.” 

Here’s a fun historical fact, fascist dictator Benito Mussolini had used the term “axis” in reference to the joining of like philosophies of the time one month before the Anti-Comintern Pact was signed. Then, the Pact of Steel, also known as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, formalized a political and military agreement between the two like-minded nations.