A four-day joint China-Russia military exercise at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) training base in China’s northwest Ningxia province will
A four-day joint China-Russia military exercise at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) training base in China’s northwest Ningxia province will conclude today.
The military drill is part of a China-Russia bilateral anti-terrorism initiative, Zapad/Interaction 2021. The exercise involved more than 10,000 Chinese and Russian personnel.
The drills also put into practice the PLA’s new combat tactics, aircraft, drones and armored vehicles in northern China’s Gobi Desert. Additionally, they facilitated Russia’s exposure to the PLA’s modernizations and China’s coordination with Russian personnel to strengthen the readiness of both militaries.
In the short-term, the exercise will act as a strategic operation in response to the Afghan Taliban’s capture of neighboring border crossings, including their potential movement into China’s Xinjiang province. China and Russia’s response to the Taliban is likely due to the group’s potential to empower regional separatists, a particularly salient fear given Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani’s close ties to al-Qaeda.
Since 2018, China and Russia have been engaging in large-scale strategic exercises as a bilateral force to train their respective top-level command to work together, building towards long-term regional military cooperation. Nevertheless, the joint exercises may potentially expand into the Arabian Gulf, the Indian Ocean and Africa in the future.