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Russia says joint war games with China will be routine

Caption In this photo provided by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Sept. 12, 2018, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, right, and his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Wei Fenghe, visit the Tsugol firing range in eastern Siberia where nearly 300,000 Russian troops and about 3,200 Chinese troops are participating in joint exercises. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service pool photo via AP)

CHITA, Russia (AP) -- Russia and China intend to regularly conduct joint war games similar to the massive ones being held this week, the Russian defense minister said Wednesday.

Sergei Shoigu spoke as he and his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Wei Fenghe, visited the Tsugol firing range in eastern Siberia, where Russian and Chinese troops will hold joint drills later this week.

The maneuvers, the largest war games Russia ever has had, showcase burgeoning military ties between Moscow and Beijing amid their tensions with the U.S.

"We have agreed to conduct such exercises on a regular basis," Shoigu said.

The weeklong Vostok (East) 2018 maneuvers launched Tuesday span vast expanses of Siberia and the Far East, the Arctic and the Pacific Oceans. They involve nearly 300,000 Russian troops along with 1,000 Russian aircraft and 36,000 tanks and other combat vehicles.

China has sent about 3,200 troops, 900 combat vehicles and 30 aircraft to join the drills at Tsugol. The Chinese media described the People's Liberation Army involvement in the maneuvers as the country's largest-ever dispatch of forces abroad for war games.

As part of the maneuvers Wednesday, Russian air defense forces held drills in the Chita region, Russian strategic bombers launched long-range cruise missiles at a firing range in Buryatia in southern Siberia and warships in the Sea of Okhotsk fired at practice targets.

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