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Russia severely reduces its war games in the Far East with China

Russia severely reduces its war games in the Far East with China

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the audience during the military parade of participants in the Vostok 2018 (East 2018) exercises at the Tsugol military training ground in Zabekalsky district, Russia, September 13, 2018. Sputnik/Alexey Nikolsky/Kremlin via Reuters/file photo

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  • Russia conducts war games with China and others
  • 50 thousand Russians will participate compared to 300 thousand in 2018 – Russia
  • Reflecting the burden on the army of the six-month-old war in Ukraine
  • Chinese troops offered to unload armored vehicles in Russia
  • Exercises including naval exercises in the Sea of ​​Japan

LONDON (Reuters) – Russia’s military exercises in the Far East this week will take place on a much smaller scale than when they were last conducted in 2018, reflecting the pressure on Russian forces as they struggle to make progress on Russia’s battlefields. Eastern Ukraine.

Announcing the “Vostok 2022” war games, in which China will also take part, the Russian Defense Ministry said last month that its ability to conduct such exercises was in no way affected by what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

But the 50,000 personnel that Moscow said on Monday would take part is a fraction of the official figure of 300,000 said to have taken part four years ago – although some Western military analysts suspect that number is an exaggeration.

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The Ministry of Defense said that 140 military aircraft and more than 5,000 pieces of military equipment will be deployed – down to the 1,000 aircraft and 36,000 tanks and armored vehicles reported in the 2018 exercises.

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said Konrad Muzica, director of Roshan Military Consulting, based in Poland.

However, regional powers such as Japan and South Korea will watch the exercises closely as it is an important show of force by Russia and China, which joined at Vostok 2018 and will once again take part in the land and sea exercises.

Russia said its Pacific Fleet and the Chinese Navy would take part in “joint operational measures to defend maritime communications and areas of maritime economic activity” in the Sea of ​​Japan.

On Monday, the Zvezda news channel of the Russian Armed Forces published a video of Chinese troops unloading armored vehicles delivered to Russia by rail.

Disclosure of strength

Russia has relied heavily on units from the Far East to bolster its war effort in Ukraine, thousands of miles to the west, where its forces have incurred heavy losses in men and equipment in the six months since its February 24 invasion while occupying about a fifth of its neighbour.

Muzica said he estimated that 70-80% of units from Russia’s eastern military district had been deployed to Ukraine, making it “impossible” for Moscow to free 50,000 men for the exercises. The most reasonable number, he said, would be from 10,000 to 15,000.

“It is just Russia pretending that everything is fine and still having the ability to conduct a large-scale military exercise with China. But in fact I think the scope of these exercises, especially from the perspective of the ground forces, will be very, very limited.”

The Eastern Military District includes part of Siberia and is based in Khabarovsk, near the Chinese border.

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The Defense Ministry said the exercises will take place from September 1-7 and will also include military units and observers from Algeria, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Syria and former Soviet republics such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. and Tajikistan.

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Mark Trevelyan reports. Editing by Angus McSwan

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