The forum began as Moscow kicked off its largest military drills for 40 years in its vast eastern and central military districts, ranging from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific coast. The weeklong Vostok-2018 exercises include the participation of some 300,000 Russian troops, with China contributing 3,200 soldiers and 30 aircraft.

The joint drills “will send a message to the U.S. and its allies: if they continue the current course of containing Moscow and Beijing, the two largest powers in Eurasia will be forced to join hands,” said Alexander Gabuev, head of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Russia in the Asia-Pacific Program.

Putin said he expects trade between Russia and China to reach a record $100 billion in 2018, up from about $87 billion last year.