MOSCOW—Russia on Thursday launched weeklong war games involving forces from China and other nations 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 might for massive drills even as its troops are engaged in military action in Ukraine.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Vostok 2022 (East 2022) exercise will be held until Sept. 7 at seven firing ranges in Russia’s Far East and the Sea of Japan and involve more than 50,000 troops and over 5,000 weapons units, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships.
Russian General Staff chief, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, will personally oversee the drills involving troops from several ex-Soviet nations, 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 “practice joint action to protect sea communications, areas of marine economic activity, and support for ground troops in littoral areas.”
Beijing sent more than 2,000 troops along with more than 300 military vehicles, 21 combat aircraft, and three warships to take part in the drills, Chinese news reports said.
The Global Times, a Chinese regime mouthpiece, noted that the maneuvers marked the first time that the Chinese communist regime 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 defense ties between Moscow and Beijing, which have grown stronger since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has pointedly refused to criticize Russia’s actions, blaming the United States and NATO for provoking Moscow, and has criticized the punishing sanctions imposed on Moscow.
Russia, in turn, has strongly backed the CCP amid the tensions with the United States that followed a recent visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Putin has drawn parallels between U.S. support for Ukraine and Pelosi’s trip, describing them both as part of alleged efforts by Washington to foment global instability.
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 maneuvers.
Even though Moscow and Beijing in the past rejected the possibility of forging a military alliance, Putin has said that such a prospect can’t be ruled out. He also has noted that Russia has been sharing highly sensitive military technologies with the Chinese regime that helped significantly bolster its defense capability.