By Elena Teslova
MOSCOW (AA) – Russia and China worked out a plan of military cooperation for 2020-21, Russia's Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said on Friday.
"A big cooperation plan has been prepared for the near future, and I am sure that we will analyze and approve it within the next month," Shoygu told reporters in Russia's southern city of Orenburg on the sidelines of the Center-2019 military exercise.
Shoygu said some 1,500 Chinese servicemen were taking part in the drill and performing "high training standards."
“I think that the joint participation of Russian and Chinese servicemen in the military exercise shows the high level of our relationship, which is characterized as ‘shoulder to shoulder’,” Russia’s defense chief said.
The Center-2019 drill involves some 128,000 servicemen from eight countries, including Russia, China, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Over 20,000 pieces of weaponry and military equipment and about 600 aircraft are taking part in the military exercise.
The member countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) — Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan — will host some stages of the drill which will run through Sept. 21.
– Russia slams ‘naive’ US threat to attack its enclave
On Tuesday, U.S. Air Forces Commander in Europe and Africa Gen. Jeffrey Lee Harrigian said that the U.S. can "take down" Russia's enclave Kaliningrad in case of necessity.
“If we have to go in there to take down, for instance, the Kaliningrad IADS [Integrated Air Defence System], let there be no doubt we have a plan to go after that … We train to that. We think through those plans all the time, and … if that would ever come to fruition, we’d be ready to execute,” he said.
In its response to the U.S. threat, Russia Friday called it a “naive” plan and dubbed Harrigian’s remarks “mindless.”
The Defense Ministry assured in a statement that Russia is "effectively protected" all around.
"… [the U.S.] ‘plans’ for the conquest of Kaliningrad, should worry, first of all, his direct subordinates," the ministry said.
Separately, Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, said Moscow described the Harrigian’s remarks as an “irresponsible threat.”