With the lion's share of events completed, Russia was holding a commanding lead at the International Army Games 2015 in Moscow. With just 13 medals out of 480 remaining to be won, Russia has collected more than its fair share of hardware, chief referee Dmitry Gorbatenko told reporters, the Russian government-backed news agency Tass reported.
"Of the participating countries Russia is in the lead," Gorbatenko said, as Tass reported. "It has placed first practically in all contests. China is second, and Kazakhstan, third for the time being,"
The final rounds of events are underway, including the last races of the high-profile tank biathlon contest. The games are scheduled to end Saturday, but Gorbatenko said the host nation's position atop the leaderboard would not shift before then.
"Some changes in the countries’ rankings may still follow," he said, Tass reported. "In particular, as far as second, third and fourth places are concerned. Russia’s leadership is indisputable. No other contestant will be able to catch up, but it remains to be seen who will be second and who will be third."
The games were expected to draw some 2,000 soldiers from 16 nations, including Belarus, China, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Serbia and Venezuela, United Press International reported. Amid tensions with the West over Russia's purported role in the deadly conflict between pro-Russia separatists and the Ukrainian government, none of the participants were NATO members. At least 6,400 people have been killed in the fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Russia, amid a military modernization worth about 22 trillion rubles ($340 billion), hoped to boost ties with the participating countries. "It is gratifying to say that people bearing arms and riding awe-inspiring military hardware are meeting here, on the hospitable Russian soil, as friend. [And at] the end of their competitions they will shake hands with a smile and joy in their rivals' success," Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said, according to UPI.
The games include events such as aircraft bombing contests, obstacle course races for troops and shooting contests. The marquee event was expected to be the tank biathlon competition, where participants race around while shooting at targets and avoiding obstacles on the about 12.5-mile course. Russia won the contest in 2014, outpacing Armenia, China and Kazakhstan, Russian outlet Sputnik News reported. The 2015 games were marred by the death of a pilot after a Russian helicopter crashed following an equipment failure, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.