Aug. 28 (UPI) -- A defense minister said Tuesday that Russia will hold war games next month, its biggest since the height of the Cold War nearly four decades ago.
The Vostok-2018 drills in Russia's eastern and central military districts from Sept. 11 to 15 will mobilize almost a third of the country's soldiers, making it the largest Russian or Soviet military exercise since 1981, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a statement Tuesday during his visit to the Central Military District.
About 300,000 troops will be involved in the drills, which traditionally start with a number of preparatory measures including some 15 special support exercises, Shoigu said.
"As a rule, it goes together with a surprise combat inspection announced by the supreme commander-in-chief, which has become a good practice," he said. "Imagine that 36,000 pieces of hardware are operating simultaneously - tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, and all of them are tests in environment closely resembling a combat one."
The drills, which will also include Chinese and Mongolian armies, come at a time of heightened tension between the West and Russia.
It is the largest military exercise since the "Zapad-81" drills in 1981 staged by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, Bloomberg reported.
"In some ways, these maneuvers repeat Zapad-81, but in others they're probably even bigger," Shoigu said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added that drills were needed to ensure Russia's military capabilities "in the current international situation, which is often quite aggressive and unfriendly to our country."