Russia launches war games with China amid tensions with West

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Russia has launched a week of war games involving forces from China and other nations in a show of growing defence co-operation between Moscow and Beijing as they face tensions with the US.

The manoeuvres are also intended to demonstrate that Moscow has sufficient military might for drills even as its troops are fighting in Ukraine.

The Russian Defence Ministry said the Vostok 2022 exercise 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 5,000 weapons units, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships.

Russia Military Drills
Chinese soldiers arrive at Grodekovo railway station (Russian Defence Ministry Press Service/AP)

The Defence Ministry said 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.

China’s Global Times newspaper noted that the manoeuvres marked the first time that China had 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 co-operation and mutual trust.

Chinese soldiers arrive at Grodekovo railway station to participate in war games drills
Beijing sent more than 2,000 troops (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

China has refused to criticise Russia’s action, blaming the US and Nato for provoking Moscow, and has criticised punishing sanctions imposed on Moscow.

Russia has strongly backed China amid the tensions with Washington that followed a recent visit to Taiwan by US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Mr Putin has drawn parallels between US support for Ukraine and Ms Pelosi’s trip, describing them as part of alleged efforts by Washington to foment global instability.

Inflation Reduction Act Pelosi Neguse
Russia strongly backed China amid tensions with Washington following Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan (David Zalubowski/AP)

“The joint manoeuvres with Moscow, including the naval drills, are intended to signal that if the pressure on Beijing continues it will have no other choice but to strengthen the military partnership with Russia. It will have a direct impact on the interests of the US and its allies, including Japan.”

He added that the Kremlin wants to show that the country’s military is powerful enough to flex its muscle elsewhere despite the campaign in Ukraine.

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.

G20 meeting – Germany
Chinese president Xi Jinping, left, and Russian president Vladimir Putin, centre (Matt Cardy/PA)

China’s participation in the drills “aims to deepen pragmatic and friendly co-operation between the militaries of the participating countries, enhance the level of strategic co-operation among all participating parties, and enhance the ability to jointly respond to various security threats,” Chinese Defence Ministry said last week.

Mr Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have developed strong personal ties to bolster a “strategic partnership” between the former communist rivals as they are locked in rivalry with the US.

Even though Moscow and Beijing in the past rejected the possibility of a military alliance, Mr Putin has said such a prospect cannot be ruled out. He also has noted that Russia has been sharing highly sensitive military technologies with China that helped significantly bolster its defence capability.

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