Russia has launched week-long war games involving forces from China and other nations in a show of growing defence cooperation between Moscow and Beijing.
The Vostok 2022 (East 2022) drills that started on Thursday came amid Russia’s all-out war in Ukraine that started on February 24 and while both Russia and China face tensions with the United States.
Here are some of the details on the exercise:
Where and when
The Vostok 22 drills are held from Thursday until September 7 at seven firing ranges in eastern Siberia, Russia’s Far East and the Sea of Japan, according to the Russian defence ministry.
Who is involved?
The exercise includes more than 50,000 troops and 5,000 weapons units, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships.
Russian General Staff chief, General Valery Gerasimov, will personally oversee the drills that will involve troops from several ex-Soviet nations, China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Syria.
What is the aim?
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”, according to the Russian defence ministry.
The drills showcase increasing defence ties between Moscow and Beijing, which have grown stronger since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops into Ukraine on February 24.
China’s participation in the drills “aims to deepen pragmatic and friendly cooperation between the militaries of the participating countries, enhance the level of strategic cooperation among all participating parties, and enhance the ability to jointly respond to various security threats”, Chinese defence ministry spokesperson Colonel Tan Kefei said last week.
Previous joint drills
The Vostok drills are the second joint military exercise conducted by Chinese and Russian troops this year.
Bombers from the two countries conducted a 13-hour drill close to Japan and South Korea in May, forcing those countries to scramble jet fighters, as US President Joe Biden was visiting Tokyo.
Last year, Russia and China held joint military exercises in north-central China involving more than 10,000 troops.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu praised the drills in China’s Ningxia and suggested they could be developed further.