Indian, Chinese soldiers coming together for military drill in Russia
Army soldiers from India and China are scheduled to participate in a week-long multi-country drill in Russia starting later this month, HT reported. The exercise is likely to be closely tracked globally given the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, the report said. The drill will be held between August 30 and September 5 at various military facilities in Russia.
- The joint military exercise and maneuvers take place against the backdrop of ongoing border tensions in eastern Ladakh and the Ukraine crisis.
- There has been no official confirmation from the Indian external affairs ministry, and defense officials have also downplayed the exercise.
- However, both countries had previously participated in multi-nation military drills, including one held in Russia last year.
The drill, led by host Russia, will include troops from India, Belarus, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and other countries in addition to China, the Chinese defense ministry said in a brief statement on Wednesday. Given Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the drill, which will take place between August 30 and September 5 at various military facilities in Russia, is likely to be closely monitored globally.
People familiar with the situation told HT that both countries have been sending troops for such exercises as part of multilateral commitments to cooperate on defense and security issues, despite no comments from the ministry of external affairs. Officials from the Indian Army also declined to comment on the upcoming drills but noted that India has previously taken part in similar drills.
Meanwhile, the Chinese defense ministry confirmed the exercise but claimed it had nothing to do with current international and regional affairs. "The People's Liberation Army will delegate and send part of its forces to Russia for participation in the Vostok-2022 exercise," it said in a statement. The exercise would be in accordance with the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
"I don't attach too much significance to India and China taking part in these multi-nation drills against the backdrop of the Ladakh standoff," said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd) while reacting to the development. "What will be more significant is restarting the India-China bilateral Hand-in-Hand exercise, which does not appear likely at the moment," he added.
The Russian government issued a statement last month saying that the exercise would be held at 13 bases and troops from the country's Eastern Military District would take part. "The drills will be held bring together the airborne forces, long-range and military transport aircraft and also military contingents of other countries," it said in a statement, as quoted by news agency Tass.
As China and India work to mend the worst thaw in relations in decades, tens of thousands of their soldiers are stationed on either side of the LAC in eastern Ladakh. The "Hand-in-Hand" counterterrorism exercise, the only military drill conducted between China and India, is still on hold. Notably, the eighth and final round took place in Umroi, Meghalaya, in December 2019.