Russia has started its largest ever military in decades, with 300,000 troops and tens of thousands vehicles, aircraft and warships taking part.

The drills are the largest since 1981, when the USSR was still in a Cold War with the United States and units from China are also participating

The war games will be witnessed by NATO and the European Union as well as monitors from 57 nations according to Deputy Defense Minister Aleksandr Fomin. He said that Russia had informed NATO of the planned exercise months ahead of time.

RT reports: The Vostok 2018 exercise is meant to test the capability of the Russian military to rapidly move and deploy large forces over long distances as well as coordinating between several branches during a large-scale engagement.

The war games will include around 300,000 Russian soldiers and officers, including 6,000 airborne troops, over 1,000 warplanes, helicopters and drones, about 36,000 armor, and 80 combat and support ships.

The assets have been sent from all over Russia to several training ranges in the Far East of the country by railroad and military transport planes. Several units of the People’s Liberation Army of China will join the Russians for a drill at the Tsugol range.

For some participants, Vostok 2018 will be their first chance to show off some new weapon systems. For instance, the Airborne Troops will be deploying their freshly-supplied BMD-4M air-dropped infantry fighting vehicles and Patriot pickup trucks armed with Kornet anti-tank missiles. Meanwhile, the military engineers will be doing their best to confuse “the enemy” with inflatable mock-ups of Iskander missile launchers and S-300 anti-aircraft batteries.

One of the key elements of the entire exercise, however, will be hard to notice from afar. Russian military communication specialists have deployed a secure network over an area of around 9.8 million square kilometers to ensure the exchange of intelligence and stable communications between the many military units involved in the drill. A broadband link to the General Staff HQ in Moscow 900km away will keep the military chain-of-command in order.