Chinese troops are planning to travel to Russia to take part in joint military drills, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said on Wednesday.
Beijing and Moscow have close defense links, and China has said that it wants to push bilateral relations “to a higher level,” even as Moscow faces international sanctions and widespread condemnation over its war in Ukraine.
The ministry said China’s participation in the annual “Vostok” exercises — which Moscow has said would take place from Saturday to Sept. 5 — is part of a bilateral 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 ministry said in a statement.
India, Belarus, Mongolia, Tajikistan and other countries would also participate, it said.
China and India have been accused of providing diplomatic cover for Russia throughout its months-long war in Ukraine by opposing Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv.
However, Beijing said its participation in the joint exercises was “unrelated to the current international and regional situation.”
It is the second joint exercise conducted by Chinese and Russian troops this year. Bombers from the countries conducted a 13-hour drill close to Japan and South Korea in May, forcing those countries to scramble fighter jets as US President Joe Biden was visiting Tokyo.
US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said that while warming ties between China and Russia undermined global security, Washington did not “read anything” into the drills.
“Most of the participating countries also routinely participate in a wide array of military exercises and exchanges with the United States as well,” he told a news conference.
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