Russia and China kicked off the first joint war games of their kind, a sign of their growing defense ties as their top military brass discussed strengthening relations in the wake of U.S. attempts to challenge their global rise.
Russian and Chinese troops, along with personnel from six other nations, are training together for the first time as part of a joint anti-terrorism drill known as “Peace Mission 2018,” conducted under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The eight-nation group had held six joint exercises prior to this, but this is the first time that all countries, including both longtime rivals India and Pakistan, are participating together. The opening ceremony and first exercise took place over the weekend.
Shortly afterward, General Li Zuocheng, the Chinese Central Commission’s joint staff department chief, made his debut visit to Moscow in yet another sign of growing Russia-China cooperation. He met with his Russian counterpart, general staff chief General Valery Gerasimov, telling him, “Today I offer to discuss the prospects of expanding and deepening our bilateral relations, including holding joint military exercises and exchanging opinions on the situation in the critical regions of the world,” according to the state-run Tass Russian News Agency.
Gerasimov accepted amid what he said was an unprecedented level of cooperation between the two countries, saying, “We are paying special attention to realizing the agreements reached. The key component of our cooperation in the military sphere is the cooperation of both countries’ general staffs.”
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