The exercises are also intended to demonstrate that Moscow has sufficient military might for massive drills even as its troops are engaged in military action in Ukraine.
The Russian Defence Ministry said that the Vostok 2022 (East 2022) exercise will be held until Wednesday, September 7, at seven firing ranges in Russia’s Far East and the Sea of Japan.
They involve more than 50,000 troops and over 5000 weapons units, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships.
Russian General Staff chief, General Valery Gerasimov, will personally oversee the drills involving troops from several ex-Soviet nations: China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Syria.
The defence ministry noted that as part of the drills, the Russian and Chinese navies in the Sea of Japan will “practice joint action to protect sea communications, areas of marine economic activity and support for ground troops in littoral areas.”
Beijing sent more than 2000 troops along with more than 300 military vehicles, 21 combat aircraft and three warships to take part in the drills, Chinese news reports said.
China’s Global Times newspaper noted that the exercises marked the first time that China has sent forces from three branches of its military to take part in a single Russian drill, in what it described as a show of the breadth and depth of China-Russia military cooperation and mutual trust.
The drills showcase increasing defence ties between Moscow and Beijing, which have grown stronger since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine on February 24.
China has pointedly refused to criticise Russia’s actions, blaming the US and NATO for provoking Moscow, and has blasted the punishing sanctions imposed on Moscow.
Russia, in turn, has strongly backed China amid the tensions with the US that followed a recent visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Putin has drawn parallels between US support for Ukraine and Pelosi’s trip, describing them both as part of alleged efforts by Washington to foment global instability.
Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have developed strong personal ties to bolster a “strategic partnership” between the former Communist rivals as they both are locked in rivalry with the US.
The exercise continues a series of joint war games by Russia and China in recent years, including naval drills and patrols by long-range bombers over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea.
Last year, Russian troops for the first time deployed to Chinese territory for joint manoeuvres.
China’s participation in the drills “aims to deepen pragmatic and friendly cooperation between the militaries of the participating countries, enhance the level of strategic cooperation among all participating parties, and enhance the ability to jointly respond to various security threats,” Chinese Defence Ministry spokesperson Colonel Tan Kefei said last week.
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