When Russia wants to bond with other countries, it hosts a friendly game of war.

China, Pakistan, and Iran joined 17 other nations in competing at the International Army Games, a two week celebration of destruction near Moscow. The mayhem started Saturday with a “tank biathlon,” in which tanks rumble across an obstacle course while blasting targets. It makes for dramatic moments, like this T-72B3 barreling through a cloud of sand and water in an epic photo by Sergei Bobylev.

Other events include the “sniper frontier,” a medic relay race, and “masters of artillery fire.” Russian TV carries it all live, and streams it online. But don’t think there’s much tactical benefit to any of it. This is Russia’s way of showing goodwill and proving that it has friends. “The politics of this are far more important than the military or security side of it,” says Robert Legvold, a Russian foreign policy expert at Columbia University. “It’s an attempt to politically and diplomatically demonstrate that Russia is not isolated and that other countries will participate in these events.”

Those other countries did not include the United States and its NATO allies that aren’t Greece, which sent one small team. So maybe the games aren’t as friendly as Russia makes them seem.

Link to article: 

Russia’s Holding a ‘Tank Biathlon’ Because of Course It Is