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China to send 1,600 troops, about 30 aircraft to Russia’s strategic military drills

The Tsentr-2019 drills will run in the Orenburg Region in Russia on September 16-21

BEIJING, August 29. /TASS/. The Chinese Army will send 1,600 troops and around 30 helicopters and aircraft to take part in Russia’s Tsentr-2019 (Center-2019) strategic drills, Spokesman for China’s Defense Ministry Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang said at a news briefing on Thursday.

"Under the consensus reached between China and Russia, the Chinese Armed Forces will take part in the Tsentr-2019 drills that will run in the Orenburg Region in Russia on September 16-21," he said.

"The integrated grouping will be created using the forces of the Chinese Army’s Western Theater Command. It will comprise about 1,600 troops, 300 weapon systems and about 30 aircraft and helicopters," the spokesman specified.

The military exercise will consist of two parts. The first stage will focus on planning joint counter-terror operations while the second phase will practice commanding multi-national forces in joint offensive operations against international terrorists’ combat groups, he stressed.

"The drills are not aimed against third countries and are unrelated to the situation in the region," the spokesman for the Chinese Defense Ministry said.

Almost 130,000 personnel

Almost 130,000 troops, over 20,000 weapon systems and about 600 aircraft from seven countries will take part in the Tsentr-2019  strategic command and staff drills, the press office of Russia’s Defense Ministry reported on August 20.

"Overall, the strategic command and staff drills will involve about 128,000 personnel, more than 20,000 items of armament and military hardware, about 600 aircraft and up to 15 warships and support vessels," the press office said in a statement.

The strategic command and staff drills will mostly run at eight training grounds in Russia: the Totskiy and Donguz ranges in the Orenburg Region in the Urals, the Adanak range in Dagestan in the North Caucasus, the Ashuluk range near Astrakhan in south Russia, the Cherbarkul range in the Chelyabinsk Region in the south Urals, the Safakulevo range in the Kurgan Region in south Russia and the Aleyski and Yurginsky ranges in the Atlai and Kemerovo Regions in southern and southwestern Siberia.

Some episodes of the drills will be practiced under special plans at the firing ranges of foreign countries. "In the Caspian Sea, the Caspian Flotilla forces will practice measures in the course of assisting land troops in coastal operations, defending sea lanes and the areas of maritime economic activity," the ministry added.

War on terror

The maneuvers will practice measures to employ troops from a coalition of countries in fighting international terrorists and ensuring military security in the Central Asian strategic area, Russia’s Defense Ministry specified.

The Tsentr-2019 strategic maneuvers will focus on evaluating the level of troops’ preparedness, the acquisition of the required skills and raising the level of inter-operability and demonstrating the readiness of the armies from Russia and the Central Asian countries to defend their national interests, the ministry specified.

Russia will be represented in the drills by troops of the Central Military District and the Caspian Flotilla, a part of forces of the Eastern Military District, paratroopers and military transport aircraft of the Aerospace Force, the ministry said.

"The military contingents of the People’s Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of India, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan will be involved in the drills to practice joint operations," Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The previous Tsentr strategic command and staff drills that took place in 2015 involved troops from Kazakhstan that were part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Rapid Reaction Force. The 2015 maneuvers brought together about 95,000 troops, more than 7,000 items of armament and military hardware, up to 170 aircraft and 20 warships.