PLA honor guards participate in Russia's Victory Day military parade in Moscow's Red Square. Credit: Handout.

China continues to sharpen the point of the spear.

Elite troops attached to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Western Theater Command will participate in the Kavkaz-2020 strategic military exercise later this month in Russia, joining military units from Russia and other participating countries, The Global Times reported.

The PLA’s participation in drills involving elimination, joint strike and battlefield control exercises, highlights the military ties between China and Russia, Chinese experts said, as China has had frequent interactions with the Russian military in recent years.

India, which also has close military ties with Russia, has understandably withdrawn from the upcoming drills amid ongoing border tensions with China.

The presence of the Pakistani army would have also been a distinct cause for concern regarding India’s participation.

New Delhi had planned to send a tri-services contingent with about 200 personnel to take part in the multilateral war game.

According to the Chinese Defense Ministry, Chinese troops will travel to Russia’s Astrakhan Region and participate in Kavkaz-2020 from September 21 to 26, the report said.

The Chinese forces will mainly consist of troops from the PLA Western Theater Command, which will carry wheeled equipment and light arms and arrive in Russia via China’s latest transport aircraft, the Defense Ministry said.

They will join exercises including mobilized defensive elimination, joint live-fire strike, multidimensional assault elimination and battlefield situation control, and militaries from countries including Armenia, Belarus, Iran, Myanmar and Pakistan will also participate, the report said.

Kavkaz-2020 will hold joint exercises, including mobilized defensive elimination, live-fire strike, multidimensional assault elimination and battlefield situation control. Credit: Handout.

As usual, the Defence Ministry is playing up China’s official participation: to further develop the two countries’ comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for the new era; deepen the pragmatic cooperation in the two militaries’ training; and boost the capability of the participating countries’ troops in jointly dealing with security threats.

Kavkaz-2020 will be Russia’s largest training event this year, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the Russian Defense Ministry.

Beijing-based military expert Li Jie told the Global Times that China’s participation in the Russian drills will highlight not only diplomatic, but also strategic cooperation between the two countries.

China and Russia have had several military interactions in various forms in recent years including various drills and the International Army Games organized by Russia, Li said, noting that the two countries will continue to enhance their strategic cooperation.

China has joined Russia’s large-scale strategic drills, the Tsentr-2019 and Vostok-2018, in the past two years.

In July 2019, China and Russia conducted their first joint strategic patrol in Northeast Asia, with the Chinese side dispatching two H-6K bombers and the Russian side dispatching two Tu-95 bombers, the report said.

In November and December 2019, the two countries also conducted naval drills in South Africa and the Gulf of Oman with South Africa and Iran respectively.

And in June, PLA honor guards participated in Russia’s Victory Day military parade in Moscow’s Red Square.