Russia Puts Su-35, Su-30SM, MiG-31 Fighter Jets On Combat Alert As Moscow Hosts Vostok 2022 Drills

On September 1, Russia began massive week-long military drills – Vostok 22 to strengthen defense cooperation between Moscow and its major allies. The drills will begin from September 1 through September 7 on seven firing ranges in eastern Siberia, the Russian Far East, and the Sea of Japan.

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On the first day of the Vostok 2022 strategic command and staff exercises, fighter aircraft from the Eastern Military District went on combat alert at operational airfields, TASS reported, citing the ministry of defense. 

Russia’s top-tier Su-35S, Su-30SM, and MiG-31 fighters from the Eastern Military District participated in the mission.

“The crews of Su-35S, Su-30SM, and MiG-31 fighters of the Eastern Military District went on air defense combat alert at operational aerodromes in the Khabarovsk, Primorsky, and Kamchatka Regions and the Chukotka Autonomous Region as part of the Vostok 2022 strategic command and staff exercise,” TASS added. 

Su-35S, Su-30SM, and MiG-31BM fighters and interceptors from the 790th Fighter Aviation Regiment at Khotilovo airfield in Tver. – Twitter

The report added that during the exercises, the fighter jets would practice intercepting aerial targets, covering for attack aircraft, carrying out airstrikes on ground targets, and providing air support for the troops. 

The report said that the ground staff of aviation units has also completed a series of aircraft maintenance procedures to get the fighters ready for flights to complete assigned tasks. 

The Vostok 2022 (East 2022) exercise is taking place amid Russia’s all-out war in Ukraine, which began on February 24, as well as tensions between China and the United States in the Sea of Japan and the Far East.

The participating nations will practice joint operations during the Vostok 2022 strategic drills along with “the troops of Russia’s Eastern Military District, Airborne Force units, long-range and military transport aircraft.”

Vostok 2022 Military Exercises

The Vostok-2022 drills will be led by the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces and will comprise defensive and offensive action practice at seven training grounds in the eastern military district.  

The training ground includes Burduny, Goryachiye Klyuchi, Knyaz-Volkonsky, Lagunnoye, Sergeyevsky, Telemba, and Uspenovsky, and the waterways and coastal zones of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan.

Vostok 2022 Military Exercises- Russian Defence Ministry

The exercises were initially scheduled to involve 50,000 troops, but observers believe that number will be much lower. The combined training in Russia’s Primorye region will involve over 5,000 pieces of military equipment, including 140 military aircraft.

According to the reports, roughly 6,000 troops from the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) or the Moscow-led Collective Treaty Security Organization (CTSO) are participating in the exercise.

Russia-China Cooperation

Most of those troops in the exercise are believed to be from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). 

The Russian and Chinese Navy will practice “joint action to protect sea communications, areas of marine economic activity, and support for ground troops in littoral areas” as part of the exercises in the Sea of Japan. 

The exercises highlight how Moscow and Beijing’s defense ties have grown closer since Russian President Vladimir Putin deployed soldiers into Ukraine on February 24. 

Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov announced at the inauguration ceremony on August 31 that 14 nations had dispatched troops to engage in the operations. According to Bloomberg, India has sent a contingent of 75 soldiers. 

In May, when US President Joe Biden visited Tokyo, bombers from Russia and China performed a 13-hour drill near Japan and South Korea.

China sends Army, Navy, and Air force with over 2,000 troops to Russian Vostok-2022.

In 2021, more than 10,000 soldiers participated in joint military drills between China and Russia in north-central China. The drills in China’s Ningxia region were lauded by Sergei Shoigu, the minister of defense of Russia, and he suggested expanding that exercise. 

China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, claiming that the US is the “main instigator” of the war by backing the expansion of NATO and imposing sanctions on Moscow. In response, Russia has aggressively backed China amid US-China tensions sparked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan. 

According to experts, joint exercises with Moscow, mainly the naval drills, signal that, if pressure on Beijing persists, it would be forced to deepen its military alliance with Russia.

Although Moscow and Beijing have previously rejected the idea, Putin has indicated that a military alliance cannot be ruled out. Additionally, he indicated that Russia has been sharing highly classified military technologies with Beijing, which has considerably improved China’s defense capabilities.