Putin vows to strengthen army as he inspects Russia-China war games

Putin vows to strengthen army as he inspects Russia-China war games
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Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to strengthen his nation's military during remarks made following Russia's largest-ever war games exercises with neighboring China.

The Associated Press reports that Putin addressed reporters near the Tsugol firing range, 80 miles north of China's border and where the war games took place, saying that Russia needs a stronger military to properly counter foreign threats.

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This week's military games, which involved as many as 300,000 Russian soldiers, thousands of tanks, and many Chinese assets as well, amounted to the largest joint war games in the two countries' history.

“Russia is a peaceful nation,” Putin said Thursday, according to the AP, before adding that it must "be ready to protect its sovereignty, security and national interests, and, if necessary, support our allies.”

While vowing to empower the country's military further, Putin said the exercises had demonstrated the troops' ability “to deflect potential military threats.”

The war games come amid rising tensions between Russia and the U.S. over Moscow's backing of Syrian leader Bashar Assad in the country's civil war.

The exercises on the Russia-China border follow the U.S.'s decision to halt similar exercises around the Korean Peninsula amid the Trump administration's negotiations with North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong Un, to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

Last month, the White House said in a statement that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE saw "no reason" to engage the U.S. in costly war games with South Korean forces in the region.

“The President believes that his relationship with Kim Jong Un is a very good and warm one, and there is no reason at this time to be spending large amounts of money on joint U.S.-South Korea war games,” read the statement.