Russian and Chinese forces have launched eight days of war games and drills in exercises seen by some experts as providing both countries with added value.
The joint exercises involve war games on land and at sea, and include defending ships from air attack and from assaults by enemy warships, according to a statement released by the Chinese defense ministry.
The joint drills come as Russia is completing Zapad 2017, the largest military exercise conducted by Moscow in about four years. Those exercises were being closely watched by NATO as they were being conducted in close proximity to the alliance’s eastern-most borders.
Russia and China do not have a formal military alliance, but some experts believe they are developing at least a de facto partnership that involves learning each others’ equipment and tactics.
And while both nations are still rivals in some ways, it is becoming clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin, especially, is seeking closer ties with China as a powerful force multiplier for his own military: Chinese military cooperation under certain terms puts Putin in a more powerful position in how he deals with a U.S.-led West and NATO.
“Russia is trying to show Europe and the United States that it is ready for a full-scale war and that is why we should all sit down and talk about geopolitics on Russia’s terms,” said Arseny Sivitsky, director of the Belarus-based Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies, which is close to the Belarusian foreign and defense ministries.
In terms of how this budding partnership benefits China:
The Pacific exercises also give China an increasingly expeditionary force the experience it needs to operate far beyond its own borders.
China’s fleet of modern attack submarines has been expanding rapidly in recent years and patrolling with increasing frequency and over longer ranges, including far into the Indian and Pacific oceans, but it has no combat experience.
Undersea warfare is a growing priority for China and one area where it has much to learn from Russia, which supplied it with submarines in the 1950s and from the 1990s, including about a dozen Kilo-class models that are still in service.
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