Despite tensions in Ukraine, China will send troops and tanks to Russia for the International Army Games (IAG) next month.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) made the announcement on Tuesday that its delegation of troops attending the 2022 International Army Games (IAG) in Russia had left via train.
“The Chinese troops and equipment to participate in the International Army Games 2022 (IAG 2022) departed by rail from the land port of Manzhouli on the China-Russia border, heading to the competition venues of the “Masters of Armored Vehicles” and “Tank Biathlon” contests of the IAG in Russia,” as reported by China Military.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, 275 teams representing 37 nations and regions have confirmed their participation at the IAG, which will run from August 13-27 as scheduled.
“It is learned that the IAG 2022 is to launch 36 contests as planned, which will be held in 12 countries. Among others, China will host three contests, i.e., the “Suvorov Attack” contest for infantry fighting vehicles, the “Safe Route” contest for engineering corps, and the “Sea Cup” contest for frigates,” the outlet reported.
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Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Venezuela are also participating in the IAG contests, which have been dubbed the “War Olympics.” According to the Daily Mail, the African countries of Niger and Rwanda will make their debut at the IAG competition this year. Venezuela will also host a sniper competition during this year’s games.
China has participated in past iterations of the IAG competition and Russia and China have increasingly held joint military drills in recent years. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have both signaled increased cooperation between their respective nations amid growing tensions between the U.S. and its allies and partners.
China has not provided any direct military support for Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, but it has been careful to avoid making any that could be seen as critical of Russia’s actions.
In March, amid reports that Russia had asked China for some military supplies, President Joe Biden’s administration warned that China would indeed face “consequences” if it did decide to provide material support to Russia for its war on Ukraine.
China’s high-profile involvement in this year’s IAG competition also comes amid concerns China may try to replicate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with an invasion of the island of Taiwan. While Taiwan governs itself as a de facto independent nation, China considers the island a part of its territory and has increasingly hinted at “reunification” with the island by military force.
China, Russia, Venezuela, Iran will hold military games in Russia in August.