On August 9th, Russia and China have begun holding a large-scale joint military exercise in China’s north-central Ningxia region.
The Sibu/Cooperation-2021 exercises launched on August 9th and will run through August 13th. They will involve more than 10,000 ground troops and air forces.
The Russian military said that it had sent Su-30SM fighter aircraft, motorized rifle units and air defense systems to China as part of the exercise.
As reported in the Central Military District of the Russian Armed Forces, about 13 thousand servicemen will take part in the exercises and almost 500 units of weapons and equipment will be involved.
The Russian side is represented by servicemen of the operational-tactical aviation detachment, the personnel of a motorized rifle unit stationed in the Trans-Baikal Territory, as well as special-purpose units and the command-and-control apparatus. The forces of the Chinese side are composed of ground forces and an air force.
In preparation for the exercises, the Russian side transferred four Su-30SM multipurpose fighters to the PRC, which conducted flight training with the performance of combat training missions along with the J-11 and J-7 fighters of the Chinese Air Force.
The crews took off in pairs, carried out strikes on conditional ground targets with high-explosive fragmentation bombs, and also rehearsed avoiding the “enemy’s” air defense systems.
On the eve of the exercise, Russian servicemen also took part in practicing the skills of landing from a helicopter by landing method (Mi-8 helicopters of the Chinese Air Force were involved in the training).
Russian participants with equipment and standard weapons embarked on board, flew and landed in an unfamiliar area, which ended in a march of many kilometers across rough terrain.
At the same time, the latest observation and reconnaissance devices, light machine guns, sniper rifles and AK-12 assault rifles were used.
Meanwhile, the main distinguishing feature of the Sibu/Cooperation-2021 exercise was not even the scale, but the decision of the command, for the first time, to provide the Russian military with the opportunity to use not domestic, but Chinese weapons.
According to the Central Military District, the development of Chinese technology took place in several stages, including theoretical training, classes on electronic simulators, as well as practical driving and shooting lessons.
To participate in the shooting exercise, Lieutenant General Mikhail Nosulev, Deputy Commander of the Eastern Military District, arrived at the Qintongxia training ground, who, together with his Chinese colleagues, personally observed how the Russian military mastered Chinese equipment.
“The shooting was carried out at targets imitating artillery pieces and armored objects of a conventional enemy at various distances. Despite the lack of experience, the Russian servicemen managed to hit most of the targets on the move,” a statement on the exercise read.
“The meaning of such exercises is not only to increase the combat effectiveness of the two armies and their readiness for joint actions. In addition to the purely military-technical area, the Sibo/Cooperation-2021 maneuvers have a significant added value, since they increase the geopolitical capitalization of Russia and China in the eyes of the West,” said the IMEMO RAS ( The Institute of World Economy and International Relations) Deputy Director Alexander Lomanov.
According to Lomanov, many Western politicians and experts still proceed from the fact that there can be no truly close interaction, including in the military-technical field, between Russia and China, since there are hidden internal contradictions, on which at some point it will allegedly be possible to play.
“In this regard, the maneuvers send a clear signal to those forces in the West that expect to divide Moscow and Beijing that Russia and China are precisely a collective value in modern geopolitics,” summed up Alexander Lomanov.
“The intensification of American policy in the Chinese and Russian directions is forcing Moscow and Beijing to look for new ways to counter the growing pressure from the United States and its allies, who consider the two countries the main threats to their security,” said, in turn, the director of the Center for Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania of the Institute Russian Oriental Studies Dmitry Mosyakov.
The United States made its last attempt to exert collective regional pressure on China at the ministerial meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the East Asia Summit in the week ending on August 8th.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of China’s increasingly assertive claims to the strategic waterway. He also said that any conflict there or in any ocean “would have serious global consequences for security and for commerce”.
The area has seen “dangerous encounters between vessels at sea and provocative actions to advance unlawful maritime claims” that seek to “intimidate and bully other states lawfully accessing their maritime resources”, Blinken said.
China’s deputy ambassador, Dai Bing, accused the US of becoming “the biggest threat to peace and stability in the South China Sea” and calling its “hype” in the Security Council “entirely politically motivated”.
China has refused to recognise an international arbitration ruling in 2016 that invalided most of its claims in the South China Sea.
Meanwhile, “a qualitatively new level of interaction demonstrated by the military of Russia and China during the Sibo/Cooperation-2021 maneuvers remind the West and the Indo-Pacific region that the idea of isolating Beijing and creating a united anti-Chinese front turns out to be completely unviable.”