debkafile: Russo-Chinese war game brought Chinese commando and air units onto Russian soil for the first time
On Aug. 3, DEBKA-Net-Weekly 312 carried an exclusive report on the Peace Mission 2007 exercise run simultaneously from command centers 3,000 kilometers apart in Russia and China. Friday, Aug. 17, President Vladimir Putin, while watching the exercise with China’s Hu Jintao, announced his order for the resumption of regular Russian long-range strategic bomber flights after 15 years.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military experts note that the Russian-Chinese exercise began in fact two weeks before the given date and that an important part of the drill was the transfer of large military forces across vast distances.
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The war game practiced tight military cooperation between the Russian and Chinese armies – and not only in combating terror. Those sources pointed to four novel manifestations:
1. Chinese Air Force and special units will enter Russian territory for the first time and be activated in conjunction with Russian units from Chelyabinsk in the Russian Urals and Urumchi, capital of the Chinese province of Xinjiang.
2. Also for the first time, a Russian-Chinese-Central Asian military war game will be directed from two command centers 3,000 kilometers apart in Russia and China.
3. China has never drilled its air force over any foreign territory.
A formation will fly over the Altay Mountains at an altitude of 4,000 meters when it crosses the Sino-Russian frontier. China will also send 16 Mi-17 transportation helicopters and 16 Z-9 armed helicopters to Russia.
4. Another first will be the Chinese army’s use of the Russian military railway system. The main force of 1,600 troops set out with its munitions from Xinjiang on July 19, transferring at China’s Inner Mongolian border to a Russian military train for the rest of the journey.
The capability to transfer large-scale military contingents across vast distances is essential should Moscow and Beijing decide on joint military action in the event of a possible American military operation against Iran spilling over into the Caspian and Central Asian regions.
The exercise was tagged a joint anti-terrorism drill staged by the six members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It involved 6,000 military personnel including 4,700 Russian soldiers and 36 aircraft.
The Chinese joint commander of the maneuver Gen. Xu Qiliang, pointed up the common interests binding Moscow and China as including energy and opposition to US dominance of Central Asia.
The war games coincided with Russian air force maneuvers involving strategic bombers which flew over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans.
Speaking near the Ural Mountain city of Chelyabinsk, Putin said a halt in the flights of Russian long-range bombers after the Soviet collapse had affected Russia’s security and they would now be resumed on a regular basis.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said: “It’s interesting. We are certainly not in the kind of posture we were with what used to be the Soviet Union. It’s a different era.”