Members of China’s armed forces arrived in Russia on Monday with an assortment of tanks and other military equipment to participate in war games, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The Russian military has carried out extensive training exercises throughout the country and around the world in recent months despite criticism from the international community.
Planned for Aug. 1 to 15, the International Army Games will consist of 13 military “team competitions” including a “tank biathlon,” Russian agency Sputnik International News reported. China is one of 15 nations to enter the competition, including India, Armenia and Russia.
Four Chinese Type-96 tanks will compete in the tank biathlon, while Chinese artillery pieces will participate in a “masters of artillery fire” exercise. A detachment of Chinese pilots also traveled to Russia. In all, 166 train cars were required to transport China’s military personnel around Russia for the International Army Games, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
China’s participation was the latest example of its close ties with Moscow, even as Western officials repeatedly criticized the Russian government for military aggression and activity in Eastern Europe. Russia has denied Western accusations that it directly supports pro-Moscow separatists in the Eastern Ukraine conflict, which has killed more than 6,400 people since early 2014.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a public defense of Russia last month and condemned Western nations for the implementation of economic sanctions against Moscow as punishment for its purported involvement in Ukraine.
“As for Ukraine, we have repeatedly voiced our stance on sanctions and the threats of their use,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a June news conference, Russian news agency Tass reported. “We are sure that the crisis in Ukraine can be resolved only through a dialogue and consultations.”
Russia and China also have conducted joint military training exercises in recent months. The two countries’ respective navies held drills in the Aegean Sea in May that included a Russian guided missile carrier and two Chinese frigates, reports said.