China has sent some of its most powerful main combat equipment units of its army, navy and air force to the Russian Vostok-2022 exercises, whose maneuvering phase officially started on Thursday after an opening ceremony a day earlier. The participation of the equipment displayed the depth of China-Russia military cooperation, as the drills will deter uncertainties and contribute to peace and stability in the region, analysts said.
The Chinese troops participating in the drills are mainly from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Northern Theater Command. They include about 2,000 personnel, more than 300 vehicles of various types, 21 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, and three warships, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Thursday.
This is the first time the PLA has sent three of its forces, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, to participate in a single Russian drill, observers said.
Type 99 main battle tanks, Type 04 infantry fighting vehicles and Z-19 reconnaissance and attack helicopters of the Army, the Type 055 large destroyer Nanchang of the Navy, and J-10C fighter jets of the Air Force were seen in the CCTV report.
A flotilla of Chinese naval vessels consisting of the Type 055 large destroyer Nanchang, the Type 054A guided missile frigate Yancheng and the Type 903A comprehensive supply ship Dongpinghu sailed through Tsushima Strait, from the East China Sea into the Sea of Japan on Tuesday, according to a press release on the day by the Japanese Ministry of Defense Joint Staff. With the Nanchang confirmed as a participant in the Vostok-2022 drills, the other two vessels are also likely part of the Russian exercise, observers said.
All the above-mentioned vehicles, aircraft and vessels are China’s main combat weaponry and equipment, particularly the Type 055 10,000 ton-class destroyer, which is considered one of the most powerful warships in the world, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday.
Their participation showed the breadth and depth of China-Russia military cooperation as well as mutual trust, the expert said.
The exercise will be carried out in four stages: troop assembly and deployment, joint campaign planning, implementation of plans, and troop withdrawal. The participants have jointly set up a directing department and a campaign command structure, CCTV reported, citing the Chinese joint campaign headquarter.
The navies of China and Russia will conduct anti-ship, anti-air and anti-submarine defense drills in the Sea of Japan. They will work out joint practical actions to defend sea lanes and areas of maritime economic activity, and to assist ground forces, according to a press release from the Russian Defense Ministry on Thursday.
While the drills are not aimed at a third party and are not related to current situations, they serve as a deterrent against uncertainties such as ill-intended external forces, hegemony and power politics, analysts said, noting that as two major military powers in the world, China and Russia’s military cooperation will contribute to peace and stability in the region.
The maneuvers of the Vostok-2022 are also seeing participation by Algeria, India, Belarus, Tajikistan and Mongolia, among other countries. The Vostok-2022 maneuvers will involve over 50,000 military personnel, more than 5,000 weapons and military equipment, including 140 aircraft, 60 warships, boats and support vessels, the Russian Defense Ministry said.