China's Military Is Joining Russian War Games

PLA confirms it is taking part in massive 'Vostok' joint exercises
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2022 7:30 AM CDT
China Is Joining Russian Military Exercises
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, air force and naval aviation corps of the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) fly planes at an unspecified location in China, Aug. 4, 2022. T   (Fu Gan/Xinhua via AP, File)

Chinese troops will be taking part in Russian war games starting later this month—a not unprecedented move, but one that is getting extra attention because Russia is taking part in a real war in Ukraine and China has been threatening military action against Taiwan. China's defense ministry has confirmed that the country's military will be joining the "Vostok" exercises in Russia's Far East from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5, the Wall Street Journal reports. Moscow hasn't confirmed what other nations will be taking part, but China said they will include India, Belarus, Tajikistan, and Mongolia.

Russia's "message will be, we have been criticized and sanctioned by the West but we have a range of other countries that are partners. We are not isolated," Angela Stent, a Russia expert at Georgetown University, tells the Journal. She says the exercises will be closely watched to see what state Russia's military is in after months of war. China's defense ministry said the exercises are part of an ongoing cooperation agreement and are "unrelated to the current international and regional situation," reports Reuters. In May, bombers from Russia and China held joint drills close to Japan and South Korea while President Biden was in Tokyo.

In February Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping spoke of closer ties between their countries as the Russian leader arrived in Beijing for the Winter Olympics. Russia invaded Ukraine days after the Games concluded. State Department spokesman Ned Price said that while closer ties between Moscow and Beijing undermine global security, Washington doesn't "read anything" into the joint exercises, Al Jazeera reports. "Most of the participating countries also routinely participate in a wide array of military exercises and exchanges with the United States as well," he said. (In 2018, the Vostok exercises were Russia's biggest war games since the fall of the Soviet Union.)

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