According to a Russian media report, at least 12,000 heavily armed Chinese troops have been moved to the border with Russia as tensions in the region continue to build.
The report cites the Russian FSB Border service as saying that Beijing began dispatching troops to the border on September 6, with 12-15,000 soldiers making the trip backed by heavy artillery.
According to a translated quote that the report attributes to a Russian border representative, it is not yet clear why the troops have been concentrated on the border but that “something smells bad.”
It remains to be seen whether the reported Chinese troops movements are related to large scale Russian nuclear drills set to take place on the Chinese border later this month.
Russia and China have been forging closer links in recent weeks and months, with the two super powers recently signing a $400bn deal for Gazprom to supply gas from Russia to China, the biggest natural gas deal sealed by Moscow since the collapse of the USSR. Work on the construction of the pipeline began last week.
Tensions between Russia and NATO flared last week when General Yury Yakubov, a senior Defense Ministry official, said that part of Russia’srevision to its military doctrine would include treating the United States and its NATO allies as an enemy threat against which preemptive nuclear strikes could be launched.
Last week NATO also approved a “rapid response force” of 3,500 troops that would be situated at bases in Poland, Romania, and the Baltic states in a move that was widely seen as a further aggressive escalation aimed at Moscow.