Vostok 2018: How did Chinese forces reach Russia?

Chen Zhuo

Russia's military hasn't hosted a series of drills this large since 1981 during the Soviet era.

The Vostok-2018 strategic military drills are getting underway on Tuesday, with nearly 3,200 Chinese troops in position, ready for action.

The Chinese troops with over 1,000 pieces of military equipment and 30 fixed-wing planes and helicopters have all arrived to their designated locations in Russia, from China, by rail.

The participating Chinese land and air forces are from China's North Theater Command, which borders Russia.

An armored infantry vehicle is being loaded onto a train. /Photo by Yang Zaixin

On August 16, the first train carrying soldiers and equipment left the station for East Russia.

The Chinese army used 28 trains to complete the transportation of their land forces as they journeyed to their destination, the Tsugol Training Range, the main drill site of Vostok-2018.

"I've never experienced an overseas deployment of this scale. Previously, we usually project small-scale forces between our domestic training camps," said Captain Zhang Lei, a company commander in a synthetic armored battalion.

Since most of the soldiers have never been abroad, it's a test of their mental endurance, as well as that of the equipment.

Military equipment are being loaded onto a train at a station. /Photo by Yang Zaixin

Zhang told CGTN that his company received the new armored infantry vehicles less than a year ago. "We haven't fully mastered their capabilities, so such a long distance deployment and mobilization is a great test for the equipment."

There are also six JH-7 fighter-bombers from the Chinese Air Force.

Captain Gao Puyu will fly one of them to attend the China-Russia military parade at Tsugol. "We flew from our base in China, and stopped at another Chinese airport for a while, then we were guided to cross the border to reach this Russian military airport."

Before August 29, the Chinese army finished transporting its necessary land and air forces. Experts say the army will benefit a lot from this experience.




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