Russia kicked off a week of military exercises involving forces from China and other countries On Thursday, in a demonstration of growing defense cooperation between Moscow and Beijing at a time when the two face tensions with the United States.
The maneuvers also seek to demonstrate that Russia has the sufficient military power to carry out massive exercises despite its military actions in Ukraine.
The Vostok 2022 (East 2022) exercise, which will run until Sept. 7 at seven firing centers in Russia’s far east and in the Sea of Japan, will involve more than 50,000 soldiers and more than 5,000 weapons units, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The country’s chief of staff, General Valery Gerasimov, will personally supervise the maneuvers, in which troops from former Soviet republics will participate, as well as troops from China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Syria.
According to the Defense Ministry, as part of the program, the Russian and Chinese navy in the Sea of Japan “will practice joint actions to protect maritime communications, areas of marine economic activity, and support for ground troops in littoral areas.”
The maneuvers show the growing defense ties between Moscow and Beijing, which have been strengthened since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops to Ukraine on Feb. 24. China has refused to criticize the Kremlin’s actions, blamed the United States and NATO for provocation and, criticized sanctions imposed on the country in response to the invasion.
Russia, for its part, has firmly backed China in the face of its tensions with the United States following the recent visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Putin has drawn a parallel between U.S. support for Ukraine and Pelosi’s trip, describing both as part of Washington’s alleged efforts to foment global instability.
Alexander Gabuyev, a political analyst who closely follows the relationship between Russia and China, stressed that “it is very important for Beijing to show the United States that it has ways to pressure the United States and its global interests.”
The exercises continue those conducted between Moscow and Beijing in recent years, including naval maneuvers 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 to Chinese territory for joint exercises.