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Putin meets Chinese top brass as two nations carry out anti-terror drills in show of force

The Russian leader held talks with China’s Central Military Commission Vice Chairman Zhang Youxia as hundreds of special forces troops from both countries are engaged in a series of joint drills. 

The meeting at Mr Putin’s Novo-Ogaryovo residence comes as the high-profile exercises, dubbed Cooperation-2017, enter their “active phase”.

Russian news agency TASS says the joint “anti-terror” exercises in northwest China have helped troops “adapt themselves” to the East Asian climate, which includes night-time temperatures of minus 20 degrees celsius.

Troops are using plastic bullets and stun grenades against an enemy simulated by servicemen of the Chinese People’s Armed Police.

The Kremlin-owned TASS said the training exercises, which are set to run until December 9, are “taking place in an environment close to real combat operations”. 

China and Russia share a land border with North Korea, and although leaders from both nations have called for a peaceful resolution of the ongoing crisis with Kim Jong-un’s nuclear-armed regime, it is unclear whose side they would take if war did break out.

It comes after Chinese premier Xi Jinping staged war games of his own close to the Korean Peninsula earlier this week. 

The Asian superpower said its fighter jets and spy planes flew over the West Sea and East China Sea.

And Chinese military affairs expert Song Zhongping said the aircraft could be gathering information on US movements as Donald Trump’s military carries out its own drills. 

The annual exercises, codenamed Vigilant Ace, involved some 12,000 American troops and 230 warplanes including six next-generation F-22 stealth fighters. 

The operation has been condemned by Kim Jong-un’s North Korean regime, which claims the huge US military presence is pushing the region towards the brink of war. 

A statement from Kim’s state media service said: “What matters is the fact that the drill simulating an actual war is to be staged at a time when insane President Trump is running wild.

“The situation clearly proves that the US and the South Korean puppet war maniacs are just aggressors and provocateurs breaking peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

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