On Wednesday, China’s defence ministry said that Chinese troops will travel to Russia to take part in joint military exercises led by the host and including India, Belarus, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and other countries.
The Ministry added that participation in the joint exercises is “unrelated to the current international and regional situation,” an apparent reference to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The drills are part of an ongoing bilateral annual cooperation agreement, the statement said. Similar Russian-led joint exercises involving China have taken place in recent years.
“The aim is to deepen pragmatic and friendly cooperation with the armies of participating countries, enhance the level of strategic collaboration among the participating parties, and strengthen the ability to respond to various security threats,” the statement said.
China is among a number of countries that have avoided imposing sanctions in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Chinese counterpart last month that he did not accept China’s claims that it is neutral in the Ukraine conflict and said Washington was “concerned about [China’s] alignment with Russia.”