Chinese soldiers will travel to Russia to participate in joint military exercises led by the host country and involving India, Belarus, Mongolia, Tajikistan and other countries, the Chinese Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

China’s participation in the joint exercises is “unrelated to the current international and regional situation,” the ministry said in a statement.

Last month, Moscow announced plans to hold “Vostok” (“East” in Spanish) maneuvers from August 30 to September 5, as it wages a costly war in Ukraine. He then said that some foreign forces would be involved, without naming them.

Its last such exercises took place in 2018, when China participated for the first time.

China’s Defense Ministry said its participation in the exercises was part of an ongoing annual bilateral cooperation agreement with Russia.

“The goal is to deepen practical and friendly cooperation with the armies of participating countries, enhance the level of strategic collaboration between participating parties, and strengthen the ability to respond to various security threats,” the statement said.

Under the mandate of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, Beijing and Moscow have increasingly strengthened their relations.

Shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Beijing and Moscow announced a “no-holds-barred” partnership, though US officials say they have not seen China circumvent US sanctions on Russia or provide military equipment.

Russia’s eastern military district includes part of Siberia and is headquartered in Khabarovsk, near the Chinese border.

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