GP Short Notes # 659, 11 September 2022
Russia: Military exercise Vostok 2022
On 7 September, the Vostok 2022 military exercise concluded with the participation of 13 countries involving 50,000 troops. According to Russian President Putin, the objective was to conduct various operations along the inter-branches of force divisions from the coalition forces in the interest of “maintaining the security” in Russia’s far east.
On 9 September, the Russian Deputy Defense Minister said: “The strategic command and staff exercises Vostok 2022 have increased the interoperability of Russian and allied forces.”
An editorial in China’s Global Times mentioned that the Russian and Chinese drills were intended to deter troublemakers in the regions and safeguard regional peace. India’s official spokesperson at the Ministry of External Affairs clarified that India has been regularly participating in multilateral exercises in Russia, along with other countries.
What is the background?
First, a brief note about the Vostok military exercises. They are part of a series of strategic military training exercises held by Russia each year. It is hosted in various districts from east to west in Russia. The Vostok drills 2018 saw larger participation of around 300,000 troops.
Second, the interoperability and evaluation of participating troops. Military exercises offer insights into battle preparedness and practical aspects of troop management of other nations. For countries like Armenia and Azerbaijan, India and China, the drills become a way to showcase and read the morale of the contingent from each side besides learning about technical and operational objectives of the participating troops.
Third, Russia’s posturing. The West sees the Russian offensive losing steam and lacking in numbers in Ukraine. For Russia, the Vostok exercise should be both political and military posturing.
What does it mean?
First, the possibility of Sino-Russian cooperation in the far east. The opportunity of collaborating in north-east Asia with the growing US interest in the Indo-Pacific should be a strong factor for both Beijing and Moscow.
Second, the participation of troops from Collective Security Treaty Organization’s (CSTO) permanent members and the evolution of CSTO as inter-organisation cooperation. The CSTO has facilitated regional stability and is instrumental in developing net security among ex-soviet states. NATO has been expanding closer to the Russian border, and the CSTO may become more instrumental in maintaining the order.
Third, support for Russia. It is not isolated yet. The presence of a contingent from India and China along with other nations from Latin America, former soviet republics, Southeast Asia, Northern Africa and Eastern Europe exhibited the strategic partnership of Russia. The drills were monitored by high-level delegations from Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Venezuela, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, the United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan, as well as military, attaches accredited in Russia and observers from 31 counties. Russia is enhancing its geographical and political allies to maintain its military and economic security and is not cornered yet.