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Chinese servicemen and military equipment arrive at the Zabaikalsk unloading station to participate in the Vostok military exercises, Aug. 26, 2018 (Photo by Evgeny Yepanchintsev for Sputnik via AP Images).

Huge Military Drills Show Both the Limits, and the Durability, of China-Russia Ties

Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018

In the largest Russian military exercise since the height of the Cold War, Moscow this week is deploying 300,000 troops, 900 tanks and 1,000 aircraft in central and eastern Russia. The military demonstration, called “Vostok 2018,” or East Exercise 2018, is expected to last from Sept. 11 to 15. This year, for the first time ever, Chinese military forces will participate, sending 3,200 troops and 30 aircraft over the border into eastern Russia. Similar Cold War-era drills only included states that were part of the Soviet sphere.

The Vostok exercise highlights two important, seemingly contradictory things about the relationship between China and Russia. First, the appearance of military cooperation masks deep strategic distrust and suspicion below the surface. But second, despite these real limitations, strong incentives and a lack of alternatives provide a sturdy foundation for a continued strategic partnership going forward. ...

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