An Indian Army contingent comprising of troops from 7/8 Gorkha Rifles is participating in a multilateral strategic and command Exercise Vostok-2022 aimed at interaction and coordination amongst other participating military contingents and observers
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
Russia announced on August 29, 2022, that the Vostok-2022 military exercises will be held from September 1 to 7 in different locations in the Far East and the Sea of Japan involving more than 50,000 troops from China, India and several other countries. A statement released by the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation said, “The Vostok-2022 strategic command and staff exercise envisages various scenarios of operations by combined arms and coalition forces (troops) to ensure military security of the Russian Federation and its allies within the area of responsibility of the Eastern Military District. The strategic maneuvers will bring together over 50,000 troops and more than 5,000 items of armaments and military hardware, in particular, 140 aircraft, 60 combat ships, gunboats and support vessels.”
The statement further said, “The drills are set to master the skills of commanders and headquarters in exercising command and control of combined arms and coalition forces to repel acts of aggression in the Eastern direction and in the Far Eastern maritime zone, raise compatibility and interoperability of the collation forces in jointly coping with the objectives of maintaining peace, protecting interests and ensuring military security in the Eastern region.”
Russia’s military contingent in the drills involves military command centers and troops of the Eastern Military District, Airborne Force units, long-range and military transport planes. Offensive and defensive operations are being exercised at the training grounds of the Eastern Military District and in maritime and coastal areas of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan. Russia has said that troops from China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Syria and several ex-Soviet nations are participating in the exercise.
Russia has said that troops from China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Syria and several ex-Soviet nations are participating in the exercise
On August 19, 2022, an Indian media report citing unnamed sources had said that India will be sending a 75-member military contingent to participate in Vostok-2022. Last year, an Indian military contingent participated in military drills held as part of Exercise ZAPAD-2021 in Russia in which 17 countries including China and Pakistan took part. Interestingly, China and Pakistan participated in ZAPAD-2021 as ‘observers’ along with Vietnam, Myanmar and Uzbekistan, whereas India, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Serbia and Sri Lanka participated fully in the exercise.
The Vostok-2022 strategic exercise is being held in accordance with the 1996 agreement on confidence-building in the military field in the border zone between Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and China.
India is not taking part in the sea exercises. Chinese participation in Vostok-2022 is at tri-service level, which was expected after the US-NATO war on Russia using Ukraine as proxy and America’s Joe Biden administration raising the temperatures over Taiwan to similarly target China. According to Tan Kefei, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Defence, China has sent PLA troops to Russia to participate in the Vostok-2022 exercise based on the ‘annual China-Russia military cooperation plan’ and the agreement reached by the two sides.
In May 2022, China and Russia had conducted their first combined military drills by flying strategic bombers over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea concurrent to the POTUS Joe Biden visiting Tokyo. This was in response to the Ukraine conflict which the US wants to continue indefinitely despite the economic consequences and food-energy shortages in the world.
As for India-China relations, the standoff between the two militaries continues since April-May 2020. The PLA has consolidated in intrusion areas acquired in Eastern Ladakh in 2020 and there are fresh reports of China engaged in salami-slicing Indian Territory in Arunachal Pradesh with ongoing construction work using bulldozers in full swing. To top this, the balance of India-China trade has tilted more in China’s favour than what it was before the standoff, with China gaining $77 billion annually.
The strategic maneuvers will bring together over 50,000 troops and more than 5,000 items of armaments and military hardware, in particular, 140 aircraft, 60 combat ships, gunboats and support vessels
Multinational exercises are in full swing in a divided world since the Ukraine conflict, aggravated further due to rising tensions in the Taiwan region. These are part of the overall posturing; in addition to positioning weapons and weapon systems and new groupings being formed to increase influence. The US-led West wants to kill Russia followed by China though it is amply clear by now that America’s fixation to kill Russia is utopian and is economically backfiring on the US, its mascot Britain, as well as on Europe. On the other hand, Beijing wants to integrate Taiwan into mainland China, capture maximum territory in India and Bhutan, and having successfully militarised the first island chain while the US slept, is intent on flexing muscles in the Indo-Pacific.
India is a unique position and has continued to remain focused on its own national interests. India has refused to degrade its friendship with Russia despite systemic and continuing Western pressures and continues its defence and economic relations with Russia. There is speculation about a ‘possible’ India-Russia deal of the Russian Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack/White Swan supersonic long-range bomber, given the capability and long range of the Tu-160 and India’s nuclear capability. Besides, Russia has already displaced Saudi Arabia as the second largest supplier of petroleum to India.
India has refused to degrade its friendship with Russia despite systemic and continuing Western pressures and continues its defence and economic relations with Russia
India is participating in military exercises in Russia while it is doing similarly in the Indo-Pacific, as member of the QUAD, as well as other bilateral and multilateral exercises involving Western and South Eastern nations. Moreover, as part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), India participates in exercises that include militaries of both China and Pakistan and would be expected to host such an exercise in India in the future. Interestingly, Varanasi will be the first city in the SCO region to be granted the rotating title of 'Cultural & Tourism Capital of SCO' under a new mechanism during India's SCO Presidency from September 2022 to September 2023.