The militaries of China and Russia will soon join forces again, marching into Siberia and Russia’s Far East for the biggest war games, called Vostok 2018, seen in almost 40 years.

It will be a deployment that observers say symbolizes the de facto defense cooperation between the two powers.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Vostok 2018 would be the largest preparation for the armed forces to take place after Zapad-81 was held by the Soviet Army back in 1981, when the Leonid Brezhnev administration flexed its muscles and mobilized about 100,000 to 150,000 troops.

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Chinese and Russian soldiers attend an exchange event in Moscow. Photo: Xinhua

The drill would be unmatched by previous events in the number of participating soldiers, its geographic scope and the size of the military command structure, Russian news agency TASS quoted Shoigu as saying.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said President Vladimir Putin could inspect the exercise at a parade.

It was reported by Chinese media that the People’s Liberation Army would field 3,200 elite soldiers across the border from its northernmost Heilongjiang province, on board 30 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, along with more than 900 pieces of land equipment and weaponry for the month-long military fanfare from late August to mid-September.

Among other things, joint mobile defense and counter-attack training will be held from September 11-15 at the Tsugol firing range near Lake Baikal in southern Siberia, a vast swath of land that was Chinese territory until the Qing dynasty.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan with Vladimir Putin and other leaders during Russia’s V-day parade in 2015. Photo: Xinhua

Smaller quadrennial exercises held in previous years close to China’s northeastern region, such as Vostok 2010, were interpreted by some analysts as shows of force intended for China, yet the PLA’s involvement in the largest maneuver by the Russian Army is proof of the sustained bromance between the two forces.

Mongolia will also dispatch troops.

Meanwhile, some PLA troops are wrapping up their participation in the International Army Games in Russia as well as a separate exercise earlier this month under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

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