Russia beat China and 30 other states in the biggest International Army Games yet, which wrapped up after 28 different disciplines were contested across seven countries.
After the fourth edition of the annual competition finished with a Russian win in the tank biathlon – the most popular event in what has become the military version of the Olympics – at a testing ground just outside Moscow, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu expressed his own amazement at the rapid expansion of the competition.
“Did we expect these games to grow to this size? We didn’t think it, but we dreamed of it. And now there are tens of millions following this amazing contest around the world. They watch and think: best not mess with these guys. They realize – the equipment these guys use is perfect, and they are in perfect control of it,” said Shoigu.
While the number of participants has grown each year, with even geopolitical rivals like Israel and Iran, and India and Pakistan competing side by side, Shoigu extended an invitation to the biggest missing militaries – the NATO states.
“It’s been discussed, and I am sure that it will be again. There are only two places you can truly demonstrate the qualities of your equipment and its battle-readiness in high-pressure conditions. One is on the battlefield, the other is here – where we use realistic landscapes, and real ammunition, and decisions have to be taken in seconds,” said the official.
Another prestige event where Russia beat China into second place was Aviadarts, an aerial targeting competition between fighter planes and bombers that compete to hit “enemy” ground targets.
Overall, competition for Russia, which has historically dominated the games, as its founder and first host, has grown stiffer, with Kazakhstan and Belarus putting in strong performances, and Iran capturing a sole gold in a diving competition with a perfect score.
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