Russia and China have embarked on the “active phase” of major military drills in the Sea of Japan and off Russia’s far eastern coast.
The new phase of the joint maneuvers code-named “Joint Sea 2015 II” commenced on Monday and is due to continue until Thursday, according to Russian military authorities.
They said the drills are being held in Peter the Great Bay – in Russian territorial waters – and in international waters off the Sea of Japan.
The drills reportedly involve 500 troops, 22 naval vessels, 20 aircraft and 40 armored vehicles.
“During the active phase of the maritime maneuvers, to last till August 27, the sailors work out the issues of join anti-sabotage, anti-submarine, anti-vessel and anti-aircraft defense,” said Russia’s Eastern Military District spokesman Roman Martov, adding, “Besides that, there’ll be gunnery drills with different types of surface, underwater and aerial targets.”
According to Martov, the exercises will end with joint amphibious and airborne landing by Russian and Chinese forces at the Klerk firing range in Russia’s far east.
“It’s [the] first time ever such an operation is to be held on the Russian soil,” he said.
It is also the first time that China engages in a military maneuver in the Sea of Japan amid growing tensions between Beijing and Tokyo due to alleged Chinese land reclamation in the South China Sea as well as the construction of oil and gas facilities in the East China Sea.
Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Chinese Navy Rear Admiral Wang Hai has pointed out in the past that Chinese and Russian forces should prepare to counter emerging threats.
“We need to understand very well that peaceful sea is a guarantee of economic development of our countries and guarantee of peace in the whole world,” he said.
While the Sea of Japan borders four countries – namely Japan, Russia, North Korea and South Korea – the Chinese and Russian commanders of the current drills insist that the maneuvers are not directed against any regional state.
According to the report, the first stage of the Joint Sea 2015 exercises took place in the Mediterranean Sea back in May.
The drills “showed that Russian and Chinese seamen can effectively fulfill tasks in such a difficult region as the Mediterranean Sea,” said the Russian Navy’s Deputy Commander-in-Chief Vice Admiral Aleksandr Fedotenkov.