The exercises, called Vostok-2022, are scheduled to take place until September 7 across several training grounds in Russia’s Far East and in the waters off its eastern coast.
Russia has launched large-scale military exercises involving several Kremlin-friendly countries, including China, with tensions soaring between Moscow and Western capitals.
The drills that began on Thursday come as Russia is locked in a stand-off with Western nations over what Moscow calls its military operation in pro-Western Ukraine.
The Russian defence ministry said the Vostok 2022 (East 2022) exercise will be held until September 7 at seven firing ranges in Russia’s Far East and the Sea of Japan.
It said the drills will involve more than 50,000 troops and over 5,000 weapons units, including 140 aircraft and 60 warships.
The active stage of the exercises kicked off on Thursday morning with combat aircraft, anti-aircraft unit drills and mine clearance simulations in the Sea of Japan, the ministry said.
“Combat aviation crews will have to train in the interception of air targets…and conduct air strikes on ground targets,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry released images showing military aircraft taking off and flying in formation, as well as Pantsir anti-aircraft vehicles conducting manoeuvres.
Participating countries include several of Russia’s neighbours, as well as Syria, India and key ally China. Similar drills were last held in 2018.
READ MORE: China, Russia to hold joint military drills for second time this year
China, India take part
Confirming its participation in the drills in August, China said the joint exercises were “unrelated to the current international and regional situation”.
Since Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, Moscow has sought closer ties with countries in Africa, South America and Asia — particularly China.
Moscow was in full solidarity with Beijing during the August visit of US House Speak er Nancy Pelosi to self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, which China considers its territory.
China’s Global Times newspaper noted that the manoeuvres marked the first time that China had sent forces from three branches of its military to take part in a single Russian drill, in what it described as a show of the breadth and depth of China-Russia military cooperation and mutual trust.
The US State Department, however, has said that while warming ties between China and Russia undermined global security, Washington did not “read anything” into the drills.
But the United States, which has deepened its military partnership with India in recent years, has indicated its discomfort with Indian troops joining the exercise in Russia.
“The United States has concerns about any country exercising with Russia while Russia wages an unprovoked, brutal war against Ukraine,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.
“But, of course, every participating country will make its own decisions.”
The Indian government said that its forces have regularly participated in multilateral exercises in Russia, along with a number of other countries. Russia is the biggest supplier of military hardware to India.
READ MORE: Could China benefit from the Ukraine crisis?
Source: TRTWorld and agencies