In this case, as a show of his teeth to the world, especially the West, it is not surprising that he has been conducting military exercises in the eastern part of his border since Thursday, the 1st.
These are the Vostok 2022 exercises, which involve more than 50,000 soldiers from 13 countries that maintain their ties to the Kremlin. One of them is none other than the increasingly militarized Asian giant China, which, along with Russia, is a major headache for the US and its allies.
In mid-August, China confirmed its participation in the drills, but said its presence was “not related to the current regional and international situation,” a direct reference to the war in Ukraine. Observer, but it also helps get Russian oil and gas at lower prices because of a battery of Western sanctions against Moscow.
The Chinese participation in exercises organized by Russia comes weeks after Beijing was angered by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, after which she did not hesitate to threaten the island – which is considered a rebel province. The Chinese government is carrying out military exercises to demonstrate its military prowess.
Returning to Vostok 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin watched the military maneuvers ‘in situ’ this Tuesday, a day after they were completed.
El Comercio spoke with Jesus Agreda Rutenko, professor at the University of International and Political Studies, about the implications of these giant war games in the Russian East.
Given that Russia is still mired in war with Ukraine, what does it want to prove with these military exercises? Do these exercises need to be done now?
Yes, firstly there is a symbolic factor, Russia’s idea is to show that it is not isolated and that it still has support, even though the Western world is under sanctions and trying in some way. Exemption from certain international affairs. That is why not only China but also India and other states are involved in these exercises.
Another factor is preparation. These are not the first Vostok exercises conducted in 2018 and are the largest in terms of military participation. What Russia wants is to demonstrate its ability to operate in an area of great importance to the country, Central Asia, and one of the most complex for Russia. It’s an area that has shown a certain degree of Islamic radicalization, and it’s also a concern for China because it borders Xinjiang, where the Uyghurs are.
It is a definite win for both the forces…
Russia is concerned about the stability of the region and is preparing for joint operations with China so that in the event of a real crisis, the threat can be effectively neutralized.
Drug trafficking, especially heroin, also requires joint work between the two countries.
Therefore, Russia organizes this kind of exercise to show that Russia has international support, especially with the participation of China and India, but there is also a specific factor, which is the need to neutralize real threats that do not disappear from the region and require joint work.
What does China want to show by participating in these exercises? Beijing – which has not openly supported Russia in the war – is deeply upset by what happened in Taiwan and the latest UN human rights report.
We saw China’s rise as an economic power rather than a military and political one, but as a result of a major intervention in the China Sea, as the country effectively tried to redefine its existing borders. A very cheap political actor. However, for that country to be taken into account it must be backed by some military capabilities, which is what China is trying to demonstrate. It has established itself as an economic power, and increasingly as a political power with very clear pretensions, but backed by military capability.
“So it’s like a leap for Beijing?”
There are advantages and disadvantages to China doing this. The advantage is that China is taken into account internationally, but the big disadvantage is that the US now sees it as an important competitor. Indeed, prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we saw how the US shifted its focus and geostrategic interest to the Pacific, and we saw how this Chinese stance was already viewed with concern.
But China also needs to show its military capabilities, which it has not been able to do since it does not participate in international conflicts, so these Vostok 2022 exercises fit like a glove.
-India’s participation is also interesting, especially since India and China have unresolved issues and the Indian government does not want to take sides in the war in Ukraine.
There is tension between India and China. There is economic competition, but also competition for regional influence, but neither has taken as aggressive a stance against Russia as the Western world. It shows that China, India and Russia are developing an international dialogue to position themselves as independent actors, with a certain leadership of their own within the international system, and to position themselves as an alternative vision of the West. Hegemony that emerged from the end of the Cold War.
As for these military exercises, China and India are trying to use this space to showcase their capabilities and impress not only the Western world but each other. There’s a place where they work together, but at the same time they show off each other’s abilities and kind of gravitate towards each other and try to stop the other if one acts aggressively.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the military drills were a way to show the world is diverse and that the way the West tries to approach things is neither good enough nor realistic.
We are in the process of creating a multipolar world. We have been living in a certain western dominated world for a long time and while we have seen some positive effects, there are also negative effects.
Interventions in countries like Libya, for example, show that the West can be wrong in trying to project its values to the rest of the world. When Libya intervenes and Muammar Gaddafi falls, an attempt is made to build a democratic world, but the idea fails, and we see that the country is now very unstable, and in a way the same thing happened in Afghanistan.
What China, Russia and India are discussing is that the hegemony of the Western world and the Western world’s attempt to impose its vision on the entire world can have negative consequences, and it is necessary to create a more diverse world. All those with different positions and interpretations of political and economic systems can participate and coexist without being subjected in any way to that Western imposition.
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