Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping (PHOTO: The Presidential Press and Information Office)

BEJING, China – While Russia-Ukraine war draws world attention, China is conducting military drills on its far north-eastern border, according to reports, raising expert concerns that Beijing could be considering a push into Russian territory.

Anthony Klan, writing in an investigative Australian newspaper The Klaxon, said it has obtained images and details of China’s air force and army conducting secretive exercises in the Russian border areas along the Ussuri River, near Russia’s sparsely populated Khabarovsk and Ussuriysk regions, in February and March this year.

The military drills involve Chinese Air Force fighter jets and bombers, including live-fire exercises, out of its north-eastern Harbin Air Base, and China’s 78th Group Army running tank and armored vehicle tactical drills, as The Print reported.

Considering the only border China shares in the region is with Russia, the military activities are considered unusual, which came despite China publicly backed Russia’s February 24 military operation in Ukraine, according to Klan.

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“Beijing secretly began its airforce and armoured unit drills from February, near Russian borders, in the name of routine exercises,” said one senior intelligence source, as The Print quoted.

Intelligence sources said China’s military activities along the Ussuri River had gone unnoticed with the global spotlight focused on Russia’s Ukraine invasion and on China’s movements in the Taiwan Strait, reported The Klaxon.

China has publicly expressed support for Russia, but experts note Beijing has territorial disputes with almost all of its neighbors, making an advance on Russia far from out of question.

“China appears to be way too prepared for the ongoing war situation,” said one security expert. “The far eastern territory of Russia including the areas of Khabarovsk and Ussuriysk are already remote and Russians have hardly enough military presence to secure these areas, especially if China attempts to venture out”.

China and Russia Relations

China–Russia relations, also known as Sino-Russian relations, refers to international relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation. Diplomatic relations between China and Russia improved after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and establishment of the Russian Federation in 1991.

With history of tension in the region, China in March 1969 surprised Moscow by ambushing the remote Damansky Island in a bloody attack that killed at least 31 Soviet border guards, bringing the two powers to the brink of an all-out war.

The tiny island, known as Damansky in Russian and Zhenbao Dao in Chinese, sits in the middle of the Ussuri River, which itself marks the China-Russia border in the Far East.

The deadly ambush remains a sore point with many Russians. Any move by China into Russian territory would send shockwaves around the world, as Klan elaborated.

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