Russian Federation on Tuesday announced the start of the largest war games in its history, mobilizing tens of thousands of troops for the drills that will also see Chinese troops take part, and that has prompted complaints from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that it's "a rehearsal for a major conflict".
In this photo taken from video provided by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, tanks roll during the military exercises in the Chita region, Eastern Siberia, during the Vostok 2018 exercises in Russia.
The military exercises come at a time of escalating tensions between Moscow and the West over accusations of Russian interference in western affairs and conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.
While Russia has clarified that the manoeuvres are not directed against other countries; North Atlantic Treaty Organisation said that it will monitor the exercise closely.
Analysts have said that Moscow had to invite the Chinese and Mongolian militaries given the proximity of the war games to their borders and because the scale meant the neighboring nations would probably have seen them as a threat had they been excluded.
"China, by sending a PLA [People's Liberation Army] element to train with the Russians, is signaling that United States pressure is pushing it towards much closer military cooperation with Moscow".
Tanks roll during the military exercises in Chita, Eastern Siberia, during the Vostok 2018 exercises, September 11, 2018.
Xi said the two countries' friendship was "getting stronger all the time".
NATO Spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said that the training "fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: a more assertive Russian Federation, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence".
Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said the shift away from anti-terrorism drills to more conventional war games could pave the way for greater cooperation between China and Russian Federation.
"I see little in the long term that aligns Russian Federation and China", he said.
"Involved in the exercise will be the Eastern and Central military districts, the Northern Fleet, Airborne Troops, and long-range and military transport aircraft, as well as command centers and forces of China's and Mongolia's armed forces".
The Russian Ministry of Defense yesterday broadcast images of military trucks being transported on trains, columns of tanks, armored vehicles and warships on the move, and combat helicopters and fighter aircraft taking off.
Part of Russia's response has been to increase the number of large-scale military exercises across the globe in an apparent bid to project power and ward off perceived Western aggression.