Moscow (AFP) – Russia on Thursday launched week-long war games involving troops from China and other countries in a show of growing defense cooperation between Moscow and Beijing, both of which face tensions with the United States.
The exercises are also aimed at demonstrating that Moscow has enough military strength to conduct extensive exercises even when its forces are engaged in military action in Ukraine.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Vostok 2022 (East 2022) exercise will be held until September 7 at seven firing ranges in the Far East of Russia and the Sea of Japan and will involve more than 50,000 soldiers and more than 5,000 weapons units, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships.
The Russian Chief of General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, will personally supervise the exercises, which will involve forces from several former Soviet countries, China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Syria.
The Ministry of Defense noted that as part of the exercises, the Russian and Chinese navies will exercise in the Sea of Japan “joint action to protect maritime communications, areas of maritime economic activity and support land forces in coastal areas.”
Chinese news reports said that Beijing has sent more than 2,000 soldiers along with more than 300 military vehicles, 21 combat aircraft and three warships to participate in the exercises.
The Chinese newspaper, Global Times, indicated that the exercises represented the first time that China sent forces from three branches of its army to participate in a single Russian exercise, in what it described as a display of the breadth and depth of Sino-Russian military cooperation. and mutual trust.
The exercises demonstrate the growing defense ties between Moscow and Beijing, which have grown stronger since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his forces into Ukraine on February 24. China has vehemently refused to criticize Russia’s actions, blaming the United States and NATO for provoking Moscow, and has criticized harsh sanctions imposed on Moscow.
Russia, in turn, has strongly backed China amid tensions with the United States that followed the recent visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Putin drew parallels between US support for Ukraine and Pelosi’s trip, describing both as part of alleged efforts by Washington to foment global instability.
Alexander Gaboyev, a political analyst who closely follows Russian-Chinese relations, noted that “it is very important for Beijing to show the United States that it has tools to put pressure on America and its global interests.”
“Joint exercises with Moscow, including naval exercises, are aimed at signaling that if pressure continues on Beijing, it will have no other choice but to strengthen its military partnership with Russia,” Gaboyev said. “It will have a direct impact on the interests of the United States and its allies, including Japan.”
He noted that the Kremlin, for its part, wants to show that the country’s military is strong enough to project power elsewhere despite the campaign in Ukraine.
Gaboyev said: “The Russian leadership shows that everything is going according to plan and that the country and its army have the necessary resources to conduct exercises in addition to the special military operation.”
The exercise continues a series of joint war games between Russia and China in recent years, including naval exercises and long-range bomber patrols over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. Last year, Russian troops deployed for the first time in Chinese territory to conduct joint exercises.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Cole said Tan Kefei said last week.
Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have developed strong personal relationships to strengthen the “strategic partnership” between the two former communist foes as both are in competition with the United States.
Although Moscow and Beijing have in the past rejected the possibility of forming a military alliance, Putin said such a possibility could not be ruled out. He also noted that Russia shares highly sensitive military technologies with China that have greatly helped in enhancing its defense capability.