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Russia launches joint drills with China, partners, in Far East

Chinese troops line up during the Vostok 2022 military exercise at a firing range in Russia's Far East, August 31, 2022. (Photo by AP)

Russia has launched large-scale military drills with its allies, including China, Syria and India, in the Far East’s waters, putting on display its military capabilities in the face of Western sanctions.

The Vostok-2022 military exercises kicked off on Thursday with combat aircraft, anti-aircraft unit drills and mine clearance simulations in the Sea of Japan, the Russian Defense Ministry said, adding that the maneuvers are to continue for a week.

“Combat aviation crews will have to train in the interception of air targets... and conduct air strikes on ground targets,” the ministry said in a statement, after releasing images of military aircraft and Pantsir anti-aircraft vehicles conducting maneuvers.

According to the ministry, over 50,000 troops and more than 5,000 units of military equipment, including 140 aircraft and 60 ships, are involved in the joint exercises.

Announcing the drills earlier this week, Russia’s Defense Ministry said the Russian and Chinese navies in the Sea of Japan will “practice joint action to protect sea communications, areas of marine economic activity and support for ground troops in littoral areas.”

Apart from India, Syria and China, the drills also engage troops from, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua, and several former Soviet countries.

China has blamed the United States and NATO for “provoking” Moscow over the Ukraine conflict, and has condemned Western sanctions against Russia. However, confirming its participation in the military exercises in August, China maintained that its involvement is "unrelated" to tensions around Ukraine and Taiwan. Russia was in full solidarity with Beijing upon US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s travel to self-ruled Taiwan, and condemned the visit.

Russia and China have carried out several other drills in recent years, including naval exercises in the Sea of Japan and East China Sea. Last year, Russian troops deployed to Chinese territory for maneuvers for the first time.

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