In a significant display of growing military cooperation, China and Belarus recently began conducting joint military exercises in the city of Brest, located near the Belarus-Poland border. This development marks a notable step in the strategic partnership between the two nations, both of which have been facing increasing diplomatic pressure from Western countries. 

Poland is a prominent member of NATO and a strong strategic ally of the United States. The city of Brest in Belarus is located very close to the Polish border. Specifically, it is approximately 8 kilometers (about 5 miles) from Poland’s border. This proximity makes Brest a significant location for both Belarusian and Polish relations, as well as for broader regional dynamics in Eastern Europe.

Background and Objectives

The joint military exercises, named Assault Eagle, will be held from July 8 to 19, 2024, and aim to enhance interoperability between the armed forces of China and Belarus. These drills are part of a broader effort to strengthen military ties and strategic communication between the two countries, which have been steadily developing over recent years. The exercises included various anti-terrorist training scenarios, emphasizing the importance of preparedness and cooperation in addressing potential security threats.

Key Participants and Activities

During his visit to Belarus, Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu underscored the importance of these exercises. He met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to discuss the implementation of strategic agreements and further military collaboration. The exercises feature hundreds of Chinese soldiers working alongside their Belarusian counterparts, engaging in a range of military maneuvers designed to bolster mutual defense capabilities and readiness.

Geopolitical Implications

This joint military initiative comes at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions. Belarus, a close ally of Russia, has been under scrutiny for its role in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The presence of Chinese troops in Belarus signifies Beijing’s support for Minsk, aligning both nations in their pursuit of a multipolar world order contrary to NATO. President Lukashenko expressed gratitude for China’s support, highlighting the shared vision of defending international fairness and justice.