China is sending troops to Russia as part of strategic military exercises for the first time since 2018, as officials from both nations say the event will be “business as usual” amid the war in Ukraine.
The exercises in Vostok (East) will take place in the eastern part of Russia from August 30 to September 5, although it might prove difficult to ignore the ongoing “military special operation” in Ukraine given that Russian ammunition and Soldiers are sent home to the war games. The exercises are reportedly continuing without interruption and will include all necessary personnel, weapons and equipment, Portal reported.
The Chinese military first took part in Vostok in 2018, where an estimated 300,000 troops took part in the district, which covers part of Siberia and is headquartered in Khabarovsk near the Chinese border.
Mathieu Boulegue, a military specialist at London think tank Chatham House, told Portal that the event should be “interesting” considering troops and equipment “have been deployed, rotated, lost and killed in Ukraine since February already”.
Above, Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose during their meeting in Beijing February 4, 2022. China will take part in Vostok 2022 in eastern Russia later this month, which will see hundreds of thousands of soldiers taking part in military exercises for the first time since 2018 . ALEXEI DRUZHININ/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images
Chinese Defense Ministry officials said in a statement that the exercises “are in no way related to the current international and regional situation,” Russia’s TASS news agency reported. Officials said the intention is “friendly cooperation between the armed forces of all countries” in addition to “strengthening the ability to respond to various security threats.”
China’s live fire military drills around Taiwan earlier this month were branded as “threatening” and “escalating” in a joint statement by G7 foreign ministers. The four-day drills followed the controversial visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosis, which sparked Beijing’s fury.
Dave Johnson of NATO Review wrote after the 2018 Vostok Games that the exercises were originally developed by the Russian Armed Forces in 2009 and are one of four annual strategic exercises conducted by four of Russia’s five military districts.
The drills not only test the Russian Federation’s resolve “from peace to war,” Johnson wrote, but “test national readiness for large-scale, high-intensity war against a technologically advanced adversary.”
Russian and Chinese troops will rally as the turmoil on the world stage continues.
Reports from US military officials indicate that Russian fighters are being killed or wounded in large numbers in Ukraine, with some estimates ranging from 70,000 to 80,000, exceeding numbers the US experienced during the Revolutionary War.
Other reports claim that Russian volunteer soldiers are not treated well and paid fairly.
Russian Valery Gerasimov will reportedly be in charge of exercises and strategic command at Vostok.
Newsweek asked the defense ministries of Russia and China and the US State Department for comment.