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China sending troops and tanks to Russia

A Chinese ZBD-04 Infantry Fighting Vehicle participates in a Chinese military parade, 2009. (Photo by Dan, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
July 26, 2022

The Chinese military is sending a delegation of troops and military vehicles to participate in a series of military competitions in Russia next month.

On Tuesday, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced its delegation of troops participating in the 2022 International Army Games (IAG) in Russia had departed by train from the Chinese Inner Mongolian city of Manzhouli, on its way to the city of Zabaikalsk in Russia’s southeast. The Chinese delegation left for China along with vehicles for the “Masters of Armored Vehicles” and “Tank Biathlon” competitions.

IAG is an international competition held annually by the Russian military since 2015. IAG 2022 will be held from August 13 to 27 and 275 teams from 37 countries and regions are currently slated to compete. The 36 competitions in the IAG 2022 games will be held in 12 different countries. China will also host three of the IAG 2022 contests, including the “Suvorov Attack” contest for infantry fighting vehicles, the “Safe Route” contest for engineering corps, and the “Sea Cup” contest for frigates.

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.