Chinese soldiers took part in a sporting event organized by Russia last Tuesday in Alabino, on the outskirts of Moscow.MAXIM SHEMETOV (Portal)
Chinese troops will train alongside Russian troops in one of the most important military exercises for Moscow. The Asian giant’s defense ministry has announced that the People’s Liberation Army (its armed forces) will take part in the Vostok 2022 strategic exercises, maneuvers announced with great fanfare a year ago, which also include soldiers from India, Belarus, Tajikistan and Mongolia will . The stagnation of the war in Ukraine, however, looms over military drills recently shown to be a show of muscle by Russian armed forces.
The exercises will take place in Russia from August 30 to September 5 at 13 locations in the Far Eastern Military District. In its note, the Chinese military portfolio ensures that these joint tests are part of the bilateral cooperation agreement between the two powers, stressing that “they are unrelated to the current international and regional situation.” According to the text, the aim is to “deepen practical and friendly cooperation between the participating armies, improve the level of strategic coordination and strengthen the ability to respond to various security threats”. The first time China took part in the Vostok (East, in Russian) exercises was in 2018, the year it dispatched 3,200 troops, 1,000 weapons, 30 planes and helicopters.
These are the first large-scale military exercises since the training that Russia used to mask its massive deployment in Ukraine before launching its offensive on February 24. They will include the units of the Far Eastern Military District that were not sent to the front, as well as the Air Force, one of the most severely penalized at the beginning of the conflict, and long-distance aviation.
“Note that only part of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation takes part in the special military operation (the offensive on Ukraine), and their number is sufficient to perform all the tasks set by the Commander-in-Chief (Vladimir Putin) ),” the Defense Ministry assured in one Statement to justify these exercises announced a year ago while his campaign continues with no clear horizon.
The maneuvers are being led by the second in command, the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valeri Gerasimov, who has been relegated to a discreet background by not appearing in the press since the first setbacks at the beginning of the war almost half a year ago .
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Subscribe toRussian soldiers took part in maneuvers in the Grodno region of Belarus on February 12 LEONID SHCHEGLOV (AFP)
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The announcement comes after two weeks in which China has been conducting unprecedented military exercises in Taiwan in response to the controversial visit by United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and, more recently, to the island by a delegation of five US congressmen. The Asian giant, which regards Taiwan as an inalienable part of its territory and whose reunification is “a historic mission,” sees trips to the island by senior foreign officials as a message of support for independence.
Putin this week called Pelosi’s 19-hour stop in Taipei a “carefully planned provocation” by the United States with the sole aim of sowing chaos in the region. “Once again, the United States has added fuel to the fire to fuel the situation in the Asia-Pacific region,” the president said at a convention on international stability, where he criticized the West for using its own blocs like the Aukus (Australia , Great Britain, USA), “in analogy to NATO in Europe”.
China’s foreign ministry welcomed the remarks on Wednesday, saying they demonstrate “high-level strategic coordination” and “the strong support the two countries have given one another on issues related to their core interests.”
Beijing and Moscow closed ranks against the common enemy, the United States, in the Chinese capital on February 4 as Xi Jinping hosted his Russian counterpart ahead of the opening of the Winter Olympics. That long-awaited meeting, the Chinese leader’s first face-to-face meeting with another president since the pandemic began, was an “unprecedented” and “unwavering” demonstration of unity, both leaders said.
The two countries have strengthened ties over the past eight years after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and Beijing provided economic and diplomatic aid to Moscow with a gas offtake agreement. But the February joint statement took that convergence a giant step forward, as it represented an explicit repudiation of the US-led world order. For the first time, China has explicitly spoken out against NATO expansion; and Russia, to Aukus. Moscow also said Taiwan is part of Chinese territory, one of the Xi government’s top political priorities. The two presidents made it clear that the bond between their governments “knows no borders”. So much so that China has refused to publicly criticize or support the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began 20 days after that meeting.
Although Beijing has criticized Western governments for cutting off trade ties with Russia, the Asian superpower is taking advantage of the situation. “Chinese companies are actively buying commodities because sanctions are forcing Russia to sell at deep discounts what it used to sell to the European Union,” Russia’s bank Tinkoff admits in a market analysis. For their part, metallurgical companies “sometimes have to sell products to China below cost”. Depending on the industry, discounts on hydrocarbons can reach up to 50% compared to the market.
The Vostok exercises are the second joint exercises Russia and China are conducting this year. In May, bombers from both nations flew near Japan and South Korea, forcing those two Asian countries to deploy their own fighter jets in response. These 13 hours of maneuvers coincided with US President Joe Biden’s visit to Tokyo for a meeting of Quad leaders (Australia, India, Japan and the US). A year ago, China and Russia held joint training in northern China, attended by more than 10,000 soldiers.
The United States has also recently held similar military exercises in various parts of Asia. US Army troops have been practicing in Indonesia with allied forces including Australia and Japan, and in South Korea, where hundreds of activists took to the streets of Seoul to protest.
The Belarusian regime will send a testimonial detachment to Vostok 2022 to reinforce the message that Russia has its support. About 250 servicemen from a Belarusian mechanized brigade will take part in the drills, the first major ones since February’s maneuvers, which served as a platform to launch their offensive against Kyiv on the shortest front, the one crossing the Chernobyl region. Nuclear power plants in particular are still being used as a means of extortion years later. The Russian Defense Ministry has warned that the huge plant in Zaporizhia could be bombed this Friday, coinciding with UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ visit to Ukraine.
Moscow is once again accusing Kyiv of preparing alleged “provocations” to blame Russia, despite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denouncing that the recent attacks on a radioactive material storage facility were used by Russian forces as a means of “blackmail” came his country. For his part, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, has denounced that the risk around this plant, which has six reactors, is “serious”.
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