Russian-Chinese war games a new level in bilateral relations – Russian Defense Minister says

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov says the first Russian-Chinese exercises have brought bilateral relations to a new level and are a new phenomenon for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

"The exercise has proved a strategic character of our relations. It has acquired a new capacity and set up a new direction within the SCO," the minister said at a news conference.

The minister highlighted a better understanding between the Russian and Chinese military.

"The exercises have provided for better understanding between Russian and Chinese military servicemen," Ivanov said, reports RIA Novosti.

According to CNN, the exercises are the first major drills solely involving Russian and Chinese forces, although they have previously joined in border security exercises with other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a group of six Central Asian nations dominated by China and Russia.

Defense ministers and other observers from SCO states were on hand to witness the exercises, according to an article posted on the Web site of the official newspaper People's Liberation Army Daily.

Ivanov planned to hold one-on-one meetings with the other defense ministers, ITAR-Tass said, citing a Russia defense ministry official.

China's secretive military has provided few details about the weaponry and troops involved in the exercise. In recent years, China has steadily increased defense spending to upgrade its 2.5 million-member defense forces, long equipped with obsolete weaponry and tactics.

New purchases include high-tech Russian Su-27 and Su-30 fighter bombers, submarines and Sovremeny class destroyers equipped with deadly Sunburn anti-ship missiles.

Russian equipment being used in the drills include Tu-95 strategic bombers and Tu-22M long-range bombers - warplanes that can carry conventional or nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and are not usually part of peacekeeping operations. The aircraft are expected to top China's shopping list both to deter U.S. assistance to Taiwan in the event of a conflict and project Chinese strength across the region.

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