The Kremlin placed its powerful fighter jets on combat alert as Russia’s large-scale military exercise, Vostok-2022, commenced Wednesday.

According to TASS, the Russian Defense Ministry ordered the Eastern Military District fighter aircraft—including crews of Su-35S, Su-30SM, and MiG-31—to be on combat alert at operational airfields in the Khabarovsk, Primorsky, and Kamchatka Regions and the Chukotka Autonomous Region.

The ministry stated that the fighter jets would practice intercepting aerial targets, providing cover for attack aircraft, carrying out air strikes against ground targets, and providing air support for troops during the drills.

“The crews of Su-35S, Su-30SM and MiG-31 fighters of the Eastern Military District went on air defense combat alert at operational aerodromes in the Khabarovsk, Primorsky and Kamchatka Regions and the Chukotka Autonomous Region as part of the Vostok-2022 strategic command and staff exercise,” the ministry said in a statement.

Furthermore, ground aviation unit personnel will perform a series of aircraft maintenance procedures to prepare the fighters for missions.

Vostok-2022 strategic command and staff drill will be held in Moscow and run from September 1-7. The week-long military exercise, which will be led by Chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov, will include defensive and offensive drills at the Eastern Military District’s Burduny, Goryachiye Klyuchi, Knyaze-Volkonsky, Lagunnoye, Sergeyevsky, Telemba, and Uspenovsky training grounds, as well as maritime and coastal areas in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan.

In addition, over 50,000 troops will participate in the event and about 5,000 pieces of armament and military hardware, including 140 aircraft, 60 combat ships, gunboats, and support vessels.

Amid the invasion of Ukraine, Russia will dispatch thousands of its troops east to participate in this year’s strategic drills in cooperation with its strongest partner, China, and other allied countries, including Azerbaijan, Algeria, Armenia, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Syria, and Tajikistan.

Russian Allies

As you all know, Russia and China weren’t precisely buddies and remain strategic rivals. However, since the latter joined the former’s drills, particularly in 2018, both nations have established military solidarity and bond.

Even after the Kremlin attacked Ukraine earlier this year, Beijing maintained this relationship and even went so far as not to condemn the aggression. Instead, they claimed that America was the “main instigator” of the war by supporting NATO expansion and imposing sanctions on Moscow. Moreover, Russia assertively backed China in response when the US-China tension rose after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last month. Regardless, the latter hasn’t actively supported the former’s forces in Ukraine.

“The goal is to develop more practical and friendly collaboration with the armies of participating states, enhance the level of strategic cooperation among participants, and strengthen our ability to respond to various security threats,” China’s Defense Ministry stated.

The Vostok-2022 will not be the first time both countries convene for a joint exercise this year. Earlier in May, Russia and China sent bomber planes over Japan and South Korea “in an apparent show of force as President Biden” visited the northeast Asia region.

Speaking of not condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, India is another country that dodges picking which side to support and is slated to join Vostok-2022. Despite sending humanitarian aid, India maintains a close trade relationship with Russia, particularly in arms sales and, more recently, oil. Nonetheless, Indian media reported that the country’s military forces would be limited to no more than 75 personnel.

On the other hand, Delhi participates in US-led army exercises, the most recent of which took place near the Chinese border and was vehemently opposed by Beijing.

Vostok-2022 officially started at the Sergeyevsky training ground in the Primorsky Region, with Deputy Russian Defense Minister Colonel-General Yunus-Bek Yevkurov proudly opening the event.

“Today, soldiers and officers of 10 states are standing in a single formation, and a total of 14 countries are taking part in the exercise. Tens of thousands of servicemen and thousands of units of equipment are performing combat training missions according to a single plan at nine training grounds in real time,” Yunus-Bek Yevkurov said, as reported by TASS.

Yunus-Bek Yevkurov stressed the objectives of the military exercise, and that’s “to develop a common understanding of the organization of troop training, their management, and interaction at the operational and tactical levels, strengthening friendship and combat camaraderie between military personnel.”

Participating states also reiterated this in their opening remarks, highlighting the peaceful nature of the joint maneuver.