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Russia, China stage week-long military drills ahead of U.S.-South Korea exercises

By Zarrin Ahmed
Russia, China stage week-long military drills ahead of U.S.-South Korea exercises
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchange trade agreements at a ceremony in Beijing, China, on June 8, 2018. This week's military drills are a sign of deepening cooperation between the two countries amid tensions with Western and Western-allied nations in Central Asia.  File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 10 (UPI) -- In a sign of deepening government and military cooperation, China and Russia have begun several days of joint military exercises, which are the first to take place on the Chinese mainland.

The drills, called Zapad/Interaction 2021, began on Monday and will run through Friday. The exercises are the fourth conducted by Beijing and Moscow and officials say they're focused on stabilizing the region.

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The drills are being held in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and will involve large numbers of aircraft and weapons systems and about 10,000 troops.

The joint exercises are the first to be held in China and will be the first time Russian troops use Chinese-made weapons.

Both nations have increased cooperation in recent years and share some antagonism toward Western governments.

The Russian and Chinese armies are planning more exercises for September.

The drills come as the United States and South Korea are also preparing joint military exercises in the region. Preliminary exercises began Tuesday and further drills are scheduled for next week.

Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, condemned the drills on Tuesday and said they threaten stability on the Korean Peninsula. North and South Korea have technically been at war since 1950.

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