China’s defense ministry has confirmed that it will send troops to Russia to participate in joint military exercises, stating that its participation was “unrelated to the current international and regional situation”.
In July Moscow had announced plans to hold “Vostok” exercises from August 30th to September 5th, saying that some foreign forces would take part in the exercises but failing to state which forces. It is now understood that India, Belarus, Mongolia and Tajikistan will participate alongside China and Russia.
A spokesperson for the Chinese defense ministry said its participation in the exercises was part of a bilateral annual cooperation agreement with Russia.
“The aim is to deepen practical and friendly cooperation with the armies of participating countries, enhance the level of strategic collaboration among the participating parties, and strengthen the ability to respond to various security threats.”
The announcement follows a trend of growing military co-operation between Moscow and Beijing, with the two nations announcing a “no limits” partnership earlier this year.
Russia and China held joint military exercises in north-central China in August last year with more than 10,000 troops taking part. This was followed in October by joint naval drills in the Sea of Japan along with joint patrols in the western Pacific. Then in November South Korea’s military had to scramble fighter jets after two Chinese and seven Russian warplanes intruded into its airspace.