China, Belarus begin joint anti-terrorism exercises

Washington — China and Belarus began joint anti-terrorism exercises Monday in Brest, Belarus, that will last for 11 days. 

The two countries will conduct drills in the exercises titled Eagle Assault, and “soldiers from both sides will jointly carry out hostage rescue operations and counterterrorism missions,” China’s state news agency Xinhua said. 

Together, they “will work out the issues of night landing, overcoming water obstacles, and conducting operations in a populated area,” according to a statement from the Belarusian Ministry of Defense. 

China and Belarus have a history of conducting joint military exercises, having conducted four anti-terrorism exercises in territories of both countries from 2011 to 2018. 

Eagle Assault occurs against a backdrop of increasing Chinese-Belarusian cooperation, with Belarus being the newest country to join the Chinese and Russian-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization. In recent days, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi have also met with their Belarusian counterparts.

Monday in Beijing, the foreign ministers of both countries met, and Wang Yi “expressed China’s willingness to deepen high-level exchanges, strengthen strategic synergy and deepen all-round cooperation with Belarus to advance their all-weather, comprehensive strategic partnership,” Chinese state media reported.  

The countries also agreed to “oppose external interference and resist unilateral bullying,” Chinese state media CGTN said. 

Amid tensions in Northern Europe, the exercises will occur 80 miles kilometers (50 miles) north of Ukraine on the Belarusian border with Poland, a NATO member. 

Belarus has remained a close Russian ally throughout the war in Ukraine, supporting the war effort by allowing Russia to store tactical nuclear weapons in the country. 

China has yet to condemn the war and has continued to provide Moscow with economic support to buffer the effects of Western sanctions.

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