The Russian Pacific Fleet was put on high alert for surprise maneuvers. | News of the war between Russia and Ukraine

Besides launching missiles, the exercises will include nuclear-capable strategic bombers and other warplanes.

Russia’s entire Pacific fleet has been put on high alert for a surprise drill that will include practice firing missiles, in a massive show of force amid tensions with the West over the fighting in Ukraine.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the aim of the war games on Friday was to test the ability of Russia’s armed forces to launch a response to aggression.

Shoigu said that along with missile launches, nuclear-capable strategic bombers and other warplanes will also be involved in the exercises along with the naval aviation of the Pacific Fleet.

The Russian military concentrated the bulk of its forces on the front lines in Ukraine, but it also continued to hold regular exercises across Russia to train its forces and demonstrate their readiness.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the war games as part of a regular exercise aimed at “maintaining the necessary level of readiness of the armed forces”.

Shoigu noted that the scenario envisages a response to the enemy’s attempt to land on Sakhalin Island and the South Kuril Islands.

Japan asserts its territorial rights to the Kuril Islands, which it calls the “Northern Territories”. Captured by the Soviet Union in the closing days of World War II, the conflict has prevented the two nations from signing a peace treaty formally ending their hostilities.

Russia announced last year that it had suspended peace talks with Japan in protest of Tokyo’s sanctions against Moscow over its actions in Ukraine.

Russia has beefed up its military presence on the islands in recent years, deploying advanced fighter jets, anti-ship missiles and air defense systems there.

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The Pacific Fleet exercises began days before a planned visit by Chinese Defense Minister General Li Changfu to Moscow.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Shoigu and Li would discuss “prospects of bilateral defense cooperation and acute issues of global and regional security”.

Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s three-day visit to Moscow demonstrated the two countries’ partnership in countering Western efforts to isolate Russia over Ukraine, and gave a political boost to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Moscow and Beijing have accused Washington of trying to isolate them and block their development while challenging the United States for regional and global leadership.

Putin and Xi said they would increase contacts between their militaries and organize more joint naval and air patrols and exercises, but there was no indication that China would help Russia with weapons, as the United States and other Western allies fear.

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