MATTIS ON RUSSIA-CHINA WAR GAMES
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said this week that he doubts Chinese participation in the massive Vostok-18 Russian military exercises in the Far East marks a step toward a Moscow-Beijing military alliance.
Mr. Mattis was asked if he was concerned about participation by the People’s Liberation Army, which sent around 3,000 troops and 900 vehicles to the war games. The secretary played down the significance.
“I think that nations act out of their interests,” Mr. Mattis told reporters. “I see little in the long term that aligns Russia and China.”
The exercises involve some 300,000 troops, 1,000 aircraft, 80 warships and 36,000 armored vehicles. They are the largest war games ever held by Russia and the biggest since the Soviet Union in 1981. Russian Tu-95 Bear nuclear-capable bombers launched cruise missiles during the exercises, the official TASS news agency reported.
Chinese participation in the exercises signals a major shift. An earlier version of the exercise, Vostok-2010, included maneuvers of Russian forces that practiced against a national Chinese military attack in the vulnerable Far East.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Wu Qian said: “China’s participation is aimed at consolidating and further developing the comprehensive and strategic partnership of coordination between China and Russia, deepening practical and friendly cooperation between the two militaries, further enhancing the joint capabilities of the two militaries to respond to security threats.”
Col. Wu said the war games are not “targeted at any third party, nor it has anything to do with the regional situation.”
Chinese and Russian forces will operate under a joint command system and will practice mechanized defense, live-fire strike and counterattack training.
China’s Communist Party-affiliated newspaper Global Times attributed closer Russia-China ties to U.S. policies.
The outlet said Washington “has actually promoted China-Russia ties by strategically squeezing the two countries.”
The ground portion of the war games will be held