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Chinese, Russian Complete Military Exercises Involving 10,000 Troops

China and Russia recently completed a series of military exercises called Zapad/Interaction-2021. The drills were conducted at the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in north-central China. They began on August 9 and lasted for five days.

The Chinese Ministry of Defense called the activity a “joint planning and field operations” that strengthen interoperability and synergy between the two nations “against the background of jointly safeguarding regional security and stability.”

The Zapad/Interaction-2021 involved 10,000 troops — a combined number of the Chinese Western Theater Command and the Eastern Military District of Russia.

The activity marked a number of firsts for both countries. It was the first joint military operation hosted by China since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, and the first time for both countries to use a joint command and control system.

For Russia, it marked the first time its troops used equipment and combat vehicles provided by the Chinese military.

Chinese-Russian Relationship

China and Russia, two superpowers that are known to have a common adversary in the United States, have a relationship that is often described as “a political marriage of convenience.”

For Artyom Lukin, an associate professor at Far Eastern Federal University in Russia, “it is getting clear that Russia-China military drills are not just symbolic shows of camaraderie, but are increasingly aimed at enhancing battlefield interoperability,” he told the South China Morning Post.

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