China to send troops to Russia for military exercises

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Beijing will send troops to Russia to take part in joint military exercises later this month to “deepen cooperation” between the two militaries, the Chinese defence ministry said.

China and Russia enjoy close defence ties and Beijing has said it wants to take bilateral relations “to a higher level”, despite international condemnation over the war in Ukraine.

According to a statement released on Wednesday, China will take part in the annual “Vostok” exercises – scheduled from 30 August to 5 September according to Moscow – as part of its cooperation with Russia.

“The aim is to deepen practical and friendly cooperation with the armies of participating countries, increase the level of strategic collaboration between the participating parties and strengthen the ability to respond to various security threats,” the defence ministry said in the statement.

Other countries taking part in this year’s Vostok exercises include India, Belarus, Mongolia and Tajikistan.

China and India have been accused in recent months of diplomatically covering for Russia by opposing Western sanctions and arms sales to Ukraine.

But Beijing insists its participation in the military exercises is “completely unrelated to the current regional and international situation”.

These are the second joint exercises conducted by China and Russia this year.

In May, the two countries held 13-hour drills near Japan and South Korea, forcing the latter to launch fighter jets as a deterrent, just as US President Joe Biden was in Tokyo.

Washington regularly expresses concern about the rapprochement between China and Russia, saying it endangers global security.