China to send troops to Russia for ‘Vostok’ exercise
BEIJING, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Chinese troops will travel to Russia to take part in joint military exercises led by the host and including India, Belarus, Mongolia, Tajikistan and other countries, China's defence ministry said on Wednesday.
China’s participation in the joint exercises was “unrelated to the current international and regional situation”, the ministry said in a statement.
Last month, Moscow announced plans to hold “Vostok” (East) exercises from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5, even as it wages a costly war in Ukraine. It said at the time that some foreign forces would participate, without naming them.
Its last such exercises took place in 2018, when China took part for the first time.
China’s defence ministry said its participation in the exercises was part of an ongoing bilateral annual 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 statement said.
Under Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Beijing and Moscow have grown increasingly close.
Shortly before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Beijing and Moscow announced a “no limits” partnership, although U.S. officials say they have not seen China evade U.S.-led sanctions on Russia or provide it with military equipment.
Russia’s eastern military district includes part of Siberia and has its headquarters in Khabarovsk, near the Chinese border.
(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian and Tony Munroe; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Bernadette Baum and Alex Richardson)