Russia and China conduct joint military exercises in East Asia


Russia, alongside China and 12 other countries, kicked off the Vostok 2022 military exercises in East Asia last Thursday, which are due to run until September 7. Military collaboration between Moscow and Beijing is growing as the United States defiantly deepens its proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. and continually stoking tensions with China over Taiwan.

Chinese troops march during the Vostok 2022 military exercise in Russia’s Far East, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. (Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP) [AP Photo]

The countries participating in the war games besides Russia and China are India, Mongolia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Laos, Nicaragua, Syria and Algeria. The military exercises are taking place at seven sites in the Russian Far East and the Sea of ​​Japan, involving some 50,000 troops, 5,000 weapon units, 140 aircraft and 60 warships. They are supervised by the Russian Chief of Staff, General Valery Gerasimov.

By conducting these exercises, Moscow seeks to demonstrate that it is capable of fighting on more than one front in the face of ongoing American provocations. However, the Vostok exercises are smaller than the last time they took place in 2018, when 300,000 troops were reportedly mobilised. The US proxy war against Russia and Washington’s provocations against China over Taiwan are pushing Moscow and Beijing toward a de facto military alliance. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he does not rule out the possibility of an alliance with China in the future.

Underpinning the growing cooperation is the first time that Beijing has sent three branches of its military to take part in a single Russian-led exercise. China has sent more than 2,000 troops, 300 vehicles, 21 aircraft and three warships.

Commenting on the nature of the exercises, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Fomin said on August 29: “The exercise is not directed against any particular country or military alliance and is purely defensive. The Russian Defense Ministry added that the Russian and Chinese navies in the Sea of ​​Japan would “practice joint action to protect maritime communications, maritime economic activity zones and ground troop support in littoral areas.”

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Tan Kefei said on Aug. 25 that China’s participation in the drills “aims to deepen pragmatic and friendly cooperation between the militaries of participating countries, improve the level of strategic cooperation between all participating parties and to strengthen the capacity to respond to various security threats.

It should be noted that India also sent a contingent to the exercises, although a small contingent of 75 soldiers, participating in military exercises. While New Delhi is part of the US-led Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad), alongside Japan and Australia, a quasi-military alliance directed against China, India has not joined the United States to denounce Russia over Ukraine because it depends on Russia for resources such as oil and for arms sales.

Vostok 2022 is taking place amid a sharp escalation in US confrontation with Russia and China. The United States has provided Ukraine with more than $50 billion in arms and other funds, including pledging an additional $3 billion on August 24. Washington is providing kyiv with the tools to force Russia to expand the conflict that began in February as a result of US and NATO military expansion to the Russian border.

Additionally, on September 2, the Biden administration notified Congress that it had approved a $1.1 billion arms sale to Taiwan. It includes 60 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, 100 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and logistical support for radar systems. It is the sixth and largest supply of military equipment to the island under Biden, whose government, following in the footsteps of the previous Trump administration, is seeking to normalize military contact and collaboration with Taipei.

Washington is using Taiwan and Ukraine as staging points for larger wars aimed at dividing up and turning China and Russia into semi-colonies, subordinate to the United States. That program includes highly provocative visits to Taiwan by US officials, including last month by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the dispatch of military ships for so-called “freedom of navigation” exercises in the Taiwan Strait. Washington is increasingly challenging the “One China” policy that Taiwan is part of China and to which Washington formally adheres.

Washington hypocritically criticized Moscow and Beijing over the Vostok exercises. Pentagon Press Secretary Patrick Ryder said at a press briefing Aug. 31, “Well, certainly, it’s the right of all militaries and all nations that have militaries to conduct exercises. Our own army obviously organizes exercises. This is certainly something we will keep an eye on, given the nature of these nations and, in some cases, the instability they seek to cause in various parts of the world.

For the past 30 years, Washington has carried out criminal invasions and bombings of countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving the Middle East and North Africa in ruins. The United States has threatened to destroy other countries like North Korea and recently held its own East Asian war games with South Korea, dubbed the Ulchi Freedom Shield.

Yet, according to Washington, it is Russia and China that are destabilizing the region. By implication, the latter two should not be allowed to conduct military exercises in and around their own territories while the United States regularly organizes war games in Asia, thousands of miles from the American continent.

In addition, Japan, a major US ally in the region, has made it clear that it will join a Washington-fomented dispute over Taiwan, escalating tensions with Beijing. Japan’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday unveiled plans to develop and mass-produce cruise and ballistic missiles in violation of Japan’s constitution. The ministry justified the move by saying, “China continues to threaten to use force to unilaterally change the status quo and deepen its alliance with Russia.”

Encouraged by Washington, Tokyo has also taken a more aggressive stance toward Russia on the four disputed Southern Kuril Islands (called the Northern Territories in Japan), which lie just north of Hokkaido and are controlled by Moscow. Russia is using two of the islands, Iturup/Etorofu and Kunashir/Kunashiri as locations for the Vostok drills, sparking protests from Tokyo. Japan, however, hosts 56,000 US troops, with an additional 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea, putting US soldiers at Russia’s doorstep.


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