By Bill Gertz, Washington Free Beacon
Video of Chinese tanks and military equipment likely to take part in Vostok-18 appeared on the internet in early August.
PLA tanks were shown transiting Kazakhstan on trains, prompting the Kazakhstan Defense Ministry to issue a statement saying the PLA arms were headed for a Russian military training site near Cherbarkul, a town some 900 miles east of Moscow in the Ural Mountains.
The Chinese forces will take part in another international military exercise to be held before Vostok-18 hosted by the Chinese-led, anti-U.S. alliance known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
In a related development, Russian military forces in the eastern part of the country were placed on high alert on Monday ahead of the Vostok-18 exercises.
The alert was a five-day "snap inspection" in preparation for the upcoming international exercise, said Shoygu, the Russian defense minister.
Fisher, a China expert, said the Vostok exercises usually seek to test the latest offensive combined arms warfare tactics and new Russian weapons.
"If it indeed participates, the PLA will gain its first near-real exposure to modern combined arms warfare," he said.
The PLA participation in the Russian exercise likely will result in a reciprocal Russian military visit to China in the future. That would mean "the Russian force will be exposed to and likely be asked to critique the latest PLA developments in its combined-armed warfare tactics."
The joint military cooperation marks a significant increase in Chinese-Russian strategic cooperation and could lead to a formal military alliance, Fisher said.
"It also signifies that China is ready to provide political support at a minimum, and perhaps intelligence and maybe even logistic support, should Russia initiate aggression against the Baltic states, Poland, or the Ukraine," he added.
The joint military cooperation also may signify there is a developing Russian obligation to support China in the event it attacks Taiwan, or supports North Korea against South Korea and the United States," Fisher said.
The September 2014 Vostok exercise included 4,000 troops of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces that are in charge of nuclear missiles.
The 2014 exercises prompted U.S. government concerns that Moscow was preparing for a large-scale intervention in Ukraine coinciding with the seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula that year.