China and Russia started their first joint military exercise on Friday, an eight-day event symbolizing their improved ties since the Cold War and their growing influence in a world.
The war games, code-named "Peace Mission 2005," involve as many as 100,000 military personnel in sea, land and air exercises around the Russian port of Vladivostok and the Chinese port of Qingdao, the People's Liberation Daily, the mouthpiece of China's military, said on its Web site. The former Cold War foes share a 4,300-kilometer (2,590-mile) border.
"This is stimulating the geopolitical landscape in Asia," said Andrew Yang an analyst at the Taipei-based Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies and a specialist on China's army. "It's also causing nations like Russia and China to more vigorously protect their own interests."
Relations have warmed, partly because of China's attempts to tap Russian energy resources to fuel its economy. The two also were participants at six-party talks aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear program, reflecting their shares security interests, reports Bloomberg.
According to Mosnews, General Moltenskoi, noting that the Russia China war games are eliciting interest in neighboring states, tried to calm those who see the games as a threat: “There is nothing frightening about it, its normal practice.” Defenste Minister Sergei Ivanov, in his typical dry manner, indicated that other states can worry all they want, but Moscow will not change its plans. According to Ivanov, Russia conducts joint training with the United States, India, and other countries.
“Why can’t we have them with China?” the minister asked, adding, “if the games provoke interest, concern, whatever, those are their problems. Anticipating all sorts of speculations, I can say right now that the practical phase of the games will take place thousands of kilometers from Taiwan.” It’s clear that the main aim of the upcoming maneuvers for Russia is to demonstrate the possibilities of its military technology, primarily that of the TU-95 and TU-22M bombers. Currently, Russia is China’s top weapons supplier – in 2004 China bought $2 billion worth of arms and technology from Rosoboronexport.
In that sense, the Chinese market is very promising for Russia, and it is important to demonstrate the goods up front. Where support for China in its possible conflict with Taiwan is concerned, many experts believe Russia will step aside in case it develops any further.