By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Russia and China are holding massive military exercises in north-central China involving more than 10,000 troops amid shared concerns over the instability in Afghanistan and tensions with the West, officials confirmed.
Russia’s defense ministry announced the Sibu/Cooperation-2021 drills when both nations are expanding their military cooperation. The neighbors have conducted training since 2005, but the current exercises marked the first time Russian soldiers used Chinese weapons, according to Russian media.
Their military operations, involving ground troops and combat aircraft, continued through Friday in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
That area is located in northwestern China, east of Xinjiang, where China has detained more than 1 million Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities, rights groups say.
Beijing calls it a campaign against terrorism and extremism. Critics say the detentions violate the human rights of a minority group. Christians have also been suffering in the region, Worthy News learned.
Russia’s defense ministry said that Moscow sent Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter aircraft, motorized rifle units, and air defense systems to the exercise focused on counter-terrorism.
China’s state-run Xinhua news agency said the drills aim to “deepen the joint anti-terrorism operations between the Chinese and Russian militaries.” It was to “demonstrate the firm determination and strength of the two countries to jointly safeguard international and regional security and stability.”
Officials say that has created a security headache for Russia. It was among the reasons why Russia on Tuesday completed joint drills in Tajikistan with Uzbek and Tajik forces near the Afghan border. Moscow also said it was increasing its military base in Tajikistan with assault rifles and other weapons.
Analysts suggest that Moscow warmed up to China in 2014 as its political ties with the West sank to post Cold-War lows over the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. China is currently Russia’s biggest trade partner and increasingly a military ally.
Xinhua news agency said the ongoing military drills of the two countries “reflects the new height of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination.” Citing Chinese and Russian officials, it added this was crucial “for a new era and of the strategic mutual trust, pragmatic exchanges, and coordination between the two countries.”
But the cooperation was due adding to concern within the U.S.-led NATO military alliance.
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