Russia is staging joint war games with China and India on Thursday, with far fewer troops and equipment than before amid Moscow’s six-month campaign to capture territory in Ukraine.
The 50,000 soldiers announced for the Vostok-2022 (Est-2022) military exercises compares with the 300,000 who took part in previous exercises which took place in the Russian Far East four years ago.
Vostok-2022 will also deploy 140 combat aircraft and 5,000 military equipment, a fraction of the 1,000 military aircraft and 36,000 equipment involved in Vostok-2018.
“It will be the smallest strategic-level exercise in years, as the full potential of ground forces is committed to operations in Ukraine,” said Konrad Muzyka, director of Poland-based military consultancy Rochan. Told Reuters.
Muzyka estimates that up to 80% of Russia’s Eastern Military District personnel have been deployed in Ukraine, saying it is more likely that the Russian military released 10,000-15,000 troops for the Vostok-2022 exercises.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said that Vostok-2022 brings together airborne troops, air forces, as well as the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Federal Guard Service (FSO) and representatives of the Ministry of Interior and emergencies at nine shooting ranges in the Russian Far East.
A total of 6,000 foreign troops from member and partner states of the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) of the former Soviet republics, he added.
India is Sending in progress a 75-member detachment for the drills, including Gurkha troops and representatives from the navy and air force, according to Bloomberg.
China is deploying armed, air and naval forces to Vostok-2022, which state-backed media say will focus on US threats in the Pacific. The Russian Defense Ministry said the two countries’ navies will “assist ground troops” in the coastal zone of the northern and central parts of the Sea of Japan, and “defend maritime communications and maritime economic activity zones.” .
Beijing and New Delhi have declined to criticize Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, although both countries have avoided incurring secondary sanctions by providing military assistance to Russia.
“Today, soldiers and officers from 10 countries stand in a single formation, and a total of 14 countries are taking part in the exercise,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov said. said at the opening ceremony on Wednesday.
“We are bound not only by the need to strengthen military security near our borders, but also by the long friendly relations between the countries,” Yevkurov said.
The war games from September 1 to 7 are divided into two stages.
The first three-day stage will practice repelling enemy airstrikes, engaging them in fire, and carrying out defensive and offensive actions in Russia’s Primorye region.
The second four-day stage will handle a “strategic operation in the direction of the East and in the defeat of the enemy”.