Turkey deploys observers to giant Russian-Chinese military exercise Vostok
Uğur ERGAN - ANKARA
Turkey has decided to deploy military observers to a Russian-Chinese massive military exercise taking place in Siberia following Moscow’s official invitation as a full and active participant.
Russia on Sept. 11 launched the “Vostok-2018” (East-2018), its largest military drill, with hundreds of thousands of Russian troops taking part along with Chinese soldiers in a massive show of force that has rattled the West. The exercise that will observe the participation of around 300,000 troops with dozens of aerial and naval vessels will continue until Sept. 18.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had informed media last week about an official invitation by the Russian military authorities to the Turkish military’s participation to the drill. The invitation was extended to Turkey during the Tehran Summit on Syria with the participation of the leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran last week.
Echoing Erdoğan, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had also stressed the importance of the drill and said they were evaluating Russia’s proposal.
According to information obtained from reliable sources, as a result of evaluations, Turkey decided to deploy military observers to the exercise instead of active participation. A reason is NATO found the drill a threatening move and against the allied security considerations, prompting Turkey to send senior military personnel from Turkey’s military attaché of its embassy in Moscow.
In a statement, NATO underlined the need of transparency and predictability when conducting the military exercise, stressing “Vostok demonstrates Russia’s focus on exercising large-scale conflict. It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: A more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence.”