Russia and China conducted military exercises in East Asia, Biden also visited

WASHINGTON – China and Russia on Tuesday conducted their first joint military exercise since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, sending bombers over seas in Northeast Asia as a show of force while President Biden was visiting the region, according to US and South Korean officials.

A senior US official said the US government was following the military exercises, as Biden met in Tokyo with leaders Australia, Japan and India, the partner countries of the so-called quadruple alliance Partly formed to counter Chinese power in the Indo-Pacific region. The military activity was an important sign that the partnership between China and Russia had not weakened even after the three-month-old war in Ukraine had killed thousands of civilians.

The bombers flew over the Sea of ​​Japan early Tuesday morning and continued south toward the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea, the US official said, who spoke on condition of anonymity. South Korea issued a statement confirming the exercises, saying that two Chinese military aircraft and four Russian warplanes entered its air defense identification zone off the country’s east coast, without intruding into its airspace. Joint exercises involving strategic bombers are complex and are usually planned well in advance.

President Vladimir Putin has attempted to strengthen Russia’s relations with China as a like-minded country standing up to Western hegemony. On February 4, when Mr. Putin visited Beijing for the Winter Olympics and met President Xi Jinping for the 38th time as national leaders, their government issued a 5,000-word statement declaring the two nations. Unlimited Partnership.

Senior US officials and a European official later said in interviews that a Western intelligence report indicated that senior Chinese officials asked their Russian counterparts in early February. to stop On the conquest of Ukraine until the end of the Olympic Games. The day after the closing ceremony, Mr. Putin announced that Ukraine It should not be a sovereign country It ordered more Russian army units to cross into the besieged Donbass region in eastern Ukraine. The massive invasion began three days later.

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In mid-March, US officials said Russia ask china For military and economic aid after the invasion of Ukraine. The Russian ground forces performed poorly in battles and skirmishes against the Ukrainian army, and Putin decided to withdraw units from all over Kyiv and other major cities and focus on controlling the entire Donbass region. US officials say they have not seen any military or economic assistance being sent from China to Russia for the war.

US officials say China has not intervened to help Russia evade sanctions or mitigate the impact of the sanctions.

Chinese and Russian officials have strengthened their military ties in recent years, and the rapprochement between the two countries has solidified in part because of the highly personal relationship between Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin. Both men are autocrats harboring hostility toward the United States and aiming to weaken American power.

China is buying more advanced weapons from Russia, and the two countries have conducted an increasing number of joint military exercises recently. Last October, the two countries held joint naval exercises off the Russian Far East. In January, the two joined Iran for the same type of exercise in the northern Indian Ocean.

The United States is watching the rapid modernization of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and its various forces. The Russian invasion of Ukraine sparked greater concern among some American and European officials about the possibility that Beijing might decide to invade Taiwan. US officials were pushing Taiwan to Request for American-made weapons Which they say will give Taiwan a fighting chance against a typical naval invasion.

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On Monday, Mr. Biden said the United States You will defend Taiwan militarily If China attacks the democratic autonomous island. US officials later said that Biden had not altered a long-standing policy of “strategic ambiguity” over Taiwan and China in any way.

Choe Sang-Hun contributed reporting from Seoul.

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