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Russia to hold sweeping joint war games with China and others

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press

Russia said on Monday that it will launch sweeping war games drills in the country’s east which will involve forces from China – a show of increasingly close military ties between Moscow and Beijing amid tensions with the West over the Kremlin’s action in Ukraine.

The Russian Defence Ministry said the Vostok 2022 (East 2022) exercise will be held from September 1-7 in various locations in Russia’s Far East and the Sea of Japan and involve more than 50,000 troops and some 5,000 weapons units, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships.

The drills will be conducted at seven firing ranges in far eastern Russia and will engage troops from several ex-Soviet nations, China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Syria.

The ministry said units of Russian airborne troops, long-range bombers and military cargo planes will take part in the drills along with other forces.

It noted that, as part of the manoeuvres, the Russian and Chinese navies in the Sea of Japan will “practise joint action to protect sea communications, areas of marine economic activity and support for ground troops in littoral areas”.

The manoeuvres reflect increasing defence ties between Moscow and Beijing, which have grown stronger since Russia sent its troops into Ukraine on February 24.

China has pointedly refused to criticise Russia’s action, blaming the US and Nato for provoking Moscow, and has blasted 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.

Speaking earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin drew parallels between US support for Ukraine and Ms Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, charging that both were part of alleged American efforts to foment global instability.

Russia and China have held a series of joint war games 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.

Even though Moscow and Beijing in the past rejected the possibility of forging a military alliance, Mr Putin has said that such a prospect cannot be ruled out.

He has also noted that Russia has been sharing highly sensitive military technologies with China that helped significantly bolster its defence capability.