Russian land forces will join troops from China, India, Mongolia and Belarus in a series of joint military training exercises during the second half of this year, President Vladimir Putin’s office said Wednesday.
The announcement, issued as Putin met top Russian military brass in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, will stir unease in Western capitals, whose relations with Moscow have deteriorated sharply during the year-long Ukraine crisis.
Moscow has become especially keen to build closer economic and other ties with the Asian giants China and India since the United States and European Union imposed sanctions on Russia last year over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean region.
The joint military training exercises will have a focus on peace-keeping and anti-terrorist activities, the statement said.
Training exercises are also planned with troops from member countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (ODKB), which includes Russia and several former Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.