Astrakhan, Russia – Last Monday, this year’s largest military exercises began in Russia – Tsentr-2019 (lit. Center-2019). For six days straight, battle tasks were carried out on the land, sea, and air by 128,000 soldiers, more than 20,000 units of military equipment, 600 aircraft, and battleships. These maneuvers differed from previous times because seven Asian countries were also involved – India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and China. Notably, China’s participation was personally decided by Xi Jinping, the leader of the PRC.
A special focus was placed on advanced long-range air defense systems, which have been Russia’s trademark for decades. For several days, air-defense forces fended off hypothetical enemy’s airstrikes outside Astrakhan as the full-scale military maneuvers were entering their active phase. Forced marches over hundreds of kilometers were conducted; both large units and individual soldiers were examined in action. The Tsentr-2019 (lit. Center-2019) proved to be not just a military exercise, but also an extremely important stabilizing event, given the fact that India and Pakistan also took part, despite both countries being bogged down in a decades-old conflict which only seems to be escalating lately.