MOSCOW (AP) — Russia said on Monday it would launch extensive military drills in the east of the country that would involve Chinese forces — a show of increasingly close defense ties between Moscow and Beijing amid tensions with the West about the Kremlin’s action in Ukraine.
The Russian Defense Ministry said exercise Vostok 2022 (East 2022) will be held from September 1 to 7 in various locations in the Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan and will involve more than 50,000 troops, more of 5,000 units of arms, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships.
The ministry released a video of Chinese troops arriving in Russa in preparation for the exercise.
The drills will be conducted at seven firing ranges in Russia’s far east and will engage troops from several former Soviet countries, China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Syria.
The ministry said units of Russian airborne troops, long-range bombers and military cargo planes will take part in the drills along with other forces.
When first announcing the exercise last month, the Russian military stressed it was part of planned combat training that is continuing despite Moscow’s military action in Ukraine. He did not reveal the number of soldiers engaged in what the Kremlin calls “the special military operation” there.
The ministry noted that as part of the maneuvers, the Russian and Chinese navies in the Sea of Japan “will practice joint action to protect maritime communications, maritime economic activity areas and support for ground troops in littoral areas.” .
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Fomin said the naval exercises will take place in the northern and central part of the Sea of Japan.
“The exercise is not directed against specific countries or military alliances and is purely defensive,” Fomin said during a meeting with foreign military attachés.
The exercises reflect the growing defense ties between Moscow and Beijing, which have strengthened since Russia sent its troops to Ukraine on February 24. imposed on Moscow.
Russia, in turn, has been strongly supportive of China amid tensions with the United States that followed a recent visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Speaking earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin drew parallels between US support for Ukraine and Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, accusing the two of being part of alleged US efforts to foment global instability.
Russia and China have held a series of joint war games in recent years, including naval drills and long-range bomber patrols over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea. Last year, Russian troops deployed for the first time on Chinese territory for joint maneuvers.
Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have developed strong personal ties to bolster a “strategic partnership” between former communist rivals as Moscow and Beijing face growing tensions with the West.
Even though Moscow and Beijing have in the past rejected the possibility of forging a military alliance, Putin said such a prospect cannot be ruled out. He also noted that Russia shares highly sensitive military technologies with China that have helped significantly boost its defense capability.
When first announcing the drills last month, the Russian Defense Ministry stressed that it was part of planned combat training that is continuing despite Moscow’s military action in Ukraine. He did not reveal the number of soldiers engaged in what the Kremlin calls “the special military operation” there.