MOSCOW (AP) — Russia launched a week-long war game on Thursday involving troops from China and other countries in a show of growing defense cooperation between Moscow and Beijing as they both face tensions with the United States.
The maneuvers are also intended to demonstrate that Moscow has sufficient military power for mass exercises, even as its troops engage in military action in Ukraine.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the exercise in Vostok 2022 (East 2022) will be held until September 7 at seven firing ranges in Russia’s Far East and the Sea of Japan and will involve more than 50,000 troops and more than 5,000 weapons units , including 140 aircraft and 60 warships.
The Russian Chief of General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, will personally oversee the exercises involving troops from several ex-Soviet countries, China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Syria.
The Defense Ministry noted that as part of the maneuvers, the Russian and Chinese navies in the Sea of Japan “will take concerted action to protect maritime communications, areas of marine economic activity and support for ground forces in coastal areas.”
Beijing sent more than 2,000 troops along with more than 300 military vehicles, 21 warplanes and three warships to participate in the exercises, Chinese news reports said.
China’s Global Times newspaper noted that the maneuvers marked the first time China sent troops from three branches of its military to participate in a single Russian exercise, in what it described as a show of the breadth and depth of military cooperation. between China and Russia and mutual trust.
The exercises show the growing defense relations between Moscow and Beijing, which have grown stronger since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops to Ukraine on February 24. China has emphatically refused to criticize Russia’s actions, blaming the US and NATO for provoking Moscow, and has rejected the punitive sanctions imposed on Moscow.
Russia, in turn, has strongly supported China amid 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 journey, describing them both as part of Washington’s alleged attempts to fuel global instability.
Alexander Gabuyev, a political analyst who closely monitors Russia-China ties, noted that “it is very important for Beijing to show the US that it has leverage to pressure America and its global interests. “
“The joint maneuvers with Moscow, including the naval exercises, are intended to signal that if pressure continues on Beijing, it has no choice but to strengthen its military partnership with Russia,” Gabuyev said. “It will have a direct impact on the interests of the US and its allies, including Japan.”
He noted that the Kremlin, for its part, wants to show that the country’s military is powerful enough to flex its muscles elsewhere despite the campaign in Ukraine.
“The Russian leadership shows that everything is going according to plan and that the country and its army have the resources to carry out the maneuvers together with the special military operation,” Gabuyev said.
The exercise continues a series of joint war games by 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 were deployed for the first time on Chinese territory for joint maneuvers.
China’s participation in the exercises “aimed at deepening pragmatic and friendly cooperation between the armies of the participating countries, improving the level of strategic cooperation between all participating parties and increasing the ability to jointly respond to various security threats” , spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Defense, Col. said Tan Kefei last week.
Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have developed strong personal ties to cement a “strategic partnership” between the former communist rivals, as they are both embroiled in rivalry with the US
Although Moscow and Beijing have rejected the possibility of forging a military alliance in the past, Putin has said such a prospect cannot be ruled out. He also noted that Russia has shared highly sensitive military technologies with China that have helped significantly bolster its defense capability.