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China announces it will take part in joint military exercises with Russia

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China’s ministry of defense announced Wednesday that its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will be taking part in military exercises with Russian armed forces in Russia’s far east.

“According to the annual plan of cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries and the agreements of the parties, the PLA will soon allocate and send part of the forces to Russia to participate in the Vostok-2022 exercises,” the Chinese defense ministry said in a statement.

The Vostok exercises are an opportunity for China and Russia to cooperate militarily in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and possible Chinese action against Taiwan.

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the drills will involve “13 training grounds of the Eastern Military District, they will also be attended by the troops of airborne forces, long-range and military transport aviation, as well as foreign military.”

China has been a reliable purchaser of Russian military equipment since the 1990s, with sales to China making up 25-50% of Russian’s foreign military sales. Relations between the two countries have sometimes been strained as Russia in the past has accused the Chinese of stealing intellectual property, yet even with those disputes the sides have moved closer and the joint military exercises have continued.

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a symposium at Renmin University of China in Beijing, China, on April 25, 2022.

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a symposium at Renmin University of China in Beijing, China, on April 25, 2022.
(Ju Peng/Xinhua via Getty Images)

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Strategic intelligence expert Rebekah Koffler told G3 Box News Digital, “Although this military exercise is part of the annual bilateral Russia-China training cycle, the fact that Putin has decided to stick to the schedule even as his forces are in the middle of an active conflict in Ukraine is notable.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, vows to strengthen Russia's military cooperation with its allies during the Army 2022 International Military and Technical Forum at Patriot Park, outside Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 15, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, vows to strengthen Russia’s military cooperation with its allies during the Army 2022 International Military and Technical Forum at Patriot Park, outside Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 15, 2022.
(Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via G3 Box News)

“The relationship between Russia and China, under the leadership of fellow authoritarians Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, has been growing ever closer since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Koffler, a former DIA intelligence officer, told G3 Box News Digital.

A Chinese air force pilot takes part in combat training exercises near Taiwan on Aug. 7, 2022. (Wang Xinchao/Xinhua via G3 Box News)

A Chinese air force pilot takes part in combat training exercises near Taiwan on Aug. 7, 2022. (Wang Xinchao/Xinhua via G3 Box News)

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“Both Russia and China view the U.S. as their primary adversary and are posturing to challenge U.S. power projection in the East as U.S.-China’s tensions over Taiwan are intensifying,” she said.

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The last Vostok military exercises took place in 2018 and were joined by Mongolia and China, marking the first time countries outside the former Soviet bloc participated. Nearly 300,000 troops took part in addition to 36,000 vehicles, 1,000 aircraft and 80 warships, the largest since the days of the Soviet Union.

The exercises are expected to take place between Aug. 30 and Sept. 5. Other countries participating include India, Belarus and Tajikistan.

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