Russia holds naval drills in Sea of Japan, also known as East Sea

Russian military forces perform a landing during the Vostok-2018 (East-2018) military drills at Klerka training ground on the Sea of Japan coast, on Sept 15, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

KLERK PENINSULA, Russia (AFP) - Russian troops taking part in the country's largest-ever war games on Saturday (Sept 15) held drills in the Sea of Japan, which is also known as the East Sea, despite Tokyo's concerns about a Russian military build-up in the area.

The exercises were part of the Vostok-18, or East-18, war games that kicked off in eastern Russia on Sept 11 and will run until Monday.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has described the week-long operation, which involves nearly 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 vehicles, 1,000 planes and 80 warships, as Russia's biggest-ever war games.

They are also taking place in eastern Siberia and the far-eastern Pacific region, with Chinese troops involved.

On Saturday, the armed forces simulated marines capturing a shoreline area at the Klerk military training ground on a peninsula in the far eastern Primorye region supported by aviation and artillery.

"What's special about this exercise is that it involves the marines, aviation, warships from the Pacific Fleet, artillery, sappers and other specialists," Major-General Dmitry Kovalenko told journalists.

Japan has raised concerns over Russia's military build-up in the region, particularly on the Kuril Island chain, four of which are claimed by Tokyo in a dispute dating back to World War II that has prevented the two nations from signing a peace treaty.

Speaking on Thursday as he watched the drill, President Vladimir Putin promised to "further reinforce" the armed forces and supply them with "the latest generation weapons and technical equipment" at a time of rising tension in Moscow's ties with Washington and Brussels.

While Russia insists the war games are long-planned and purely defensive in nature, Nato has said that they are simulating "large-scale conflict".

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