The visibility, scale and scope of Russian military exercises have been a focus of Western media and specialist literature since 2014. Russia conducted VOSTOK 2018, the latest iteration of its annual strategic exercises, from early July to 17 September 2018. VOSTOK (meaning ‘East') is part of a system of strategic exercises that the Russian Armed Forces have been developing since 2009. It is one of the four named annual strategic exercises conducted on a rotating basis among four of Russia's five military districts1. These visible events represent a small fraction of what is a whole-of-government and nationwide Russian effort to develop the ability to conduct large-scale conflict on short notice against a major military power and to influence potential adversaries. To better understand and more accurately assess their implications for NATO Allies, VOSTOK 2018 and all of Russia's strategic exercises, including large-scale snap exercises, need to be seen in their full context.