In July, Russia announced its Vostok 2022 (East 2022) military exercises, which will go on despite the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia said these drills are planned combat training and involve more than 50,000 troops and 5,000 weapons units, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships. The exercise will take place in eastern Russia, near Japan. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, ties between Russia and China have endured, and China has avoided criticizing Russia’s actions. The Russian Defense Ministry released a video of Chinese troops arriving in Russia ahead of the exercise, which is meant to show off the close ties between the two countries.
Today, Russia’s military drills are set to begin and run until September 7. China, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Armenia, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Nicaragua, Syria and Tajikistan will all be participating. This is the first time since 2018 that China will join the Vostok exercise, but the defense ministry said it doesn’t have anything to do with ongoing tensions in the region. Still, the US has already expressed concern over any country doing these military exercises with Russia as the war continues in Ukraine.
“The exercise isn’t directed against any specific countries or military alliances and is purely defensive,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Fomin.
“China’s military travels to Russia for the Vostok 2022 exercise with aims to deepen concrete and friendly cooperation with the militaries of the participating countries; enhance the level of strategic cooperation between the participating parties, and strengthen the ability to jointly respond to a variety of security threats,” said Chinese defense spokesperson Tan Kefei.
“This is going to be the smallest strategic-level exercise in years because the entire ground forces potential is engaged in operations in Ukraine. So the exercise will have to be very small,” said Konrad Muzyka, the director of the Polish Rochan military consultancy.