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Historic Sino-Russian Exercises Under Way

18 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Russia and China today started their first-ever joint military exercises with an opening ceremony in Vladivostok.

Russian General Yurii Baluyevskii told a news conference at Russia's Pacific Fleet command, alongside Chinese General Liang Guanglie, that the exercises mark "a great historic event" in Russia-China relations and do not aim to threaten any country.

"The main aim of these exercises is to ensure the training, to ensure the readiness of the structures in charge of the subdivisions taking part from the armed forces of the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China, precisely in order to counter the challenges we face today in the Asia-Pacific region, and in the world as a whole," Baluyevskii said.

The eight-day event -- dubbed "Peace Mission 2005" -- will involve some 10,000 soldiers, 140 naval ships and submarines, and Russian Tu-22M long-range bombers and Tu-95 strategic bombers. The activities will be centered in the Yellow Sea and culminate on China's Shandong Peninsula.

Colonel-General Vladimir Moltenskoi, deputy chief of Russia's Land Forces in charge of the exercise, has said the exercises envisage the UN-supported deployment of troops in a third country to separate warring sides involved in an ethnic conflict.

Moltenskoi said the military exercises will be attended by observers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a security group of which both Russia and China are members. Other members of the SCO are Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.