Chinese-Russian Military Exercises Begin
By BURT HERMAN, Associated Press Writer
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia - Chinese and Russian commanders began the practical phase Friday of their first-ever joint military exercises, putting together a unit that will stage a landing on a Chinese peninsula to practice stabilizing a fictional country.
The chiefs of staff from both countries' militaries departed early Friday from Vladivostok back to their capitals after inaugurating the drills Thursday, a spokesman at Russia's Pacific Fleet command said on condition of anonymity because he wasn't allowed to speak on the record.
The exercises began Thursday with a day of consultations between the two countries in Vladivostok before the war games moved Friday into the "practical phase," the Russian spokesman said.
The exercises running through next Thursday, named "Peace Mission 2005," will climax with amphibious and paratrooper landings and an aerial blockade at the Shandong peninsula on the Yellow Sea. Some 10,000 troops, mostly Chinese and about 1,800 Russians, are taking part.
As the drills began, the top generals from China and Russia sought to reassure the region that the exercises weren't directed against anyone. Under the fictional scenario for the exercises, the forces have been given a U.N. mandate to stabilize a country plunged into violence by ethnic strife.
The exercises "are being run under the goals and principles of the U.N. and are not directed against a third country and don't concern the interests of other countries," Chinese Gen. Liang Guanglie told reporters Thursday.
The war games are the result of strengthening ties between Russia and China over shared concern about U.S. dominance of world affairs. U.S. officials have said they hope the exercises help support a shared interest in regional stability.
Russia is also seeking to sell more arms to China, one of its leading customers, including long-range strategic bombers able to carry nuclear weapons that are being showcased during the exercises.
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