China and Russia have begun joint naval and air drills in the Sea of Japan aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two countries’ navies and maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the four-day joint exercises, dubbed “Northern/Interaction-2023”, will be held from July 20-23 as scheduled, “in accordance with the international military cooperation plan.”
The statement said the two countries’ naval forces will practice conducting joint anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and naval combat maneuvers.
They will carry out sea and air convoys of ships, protect and defend groups of ships when moored in an unprotected estuary, and ensure the security of communications in the waters and airspace of the Sea of Japan, it added.
According to the ministry, joint artillery firing is also planned during the Russian-Chinese drill.
The Russian Navy, it went on, will be represented during the drills by several vessels from the Pacific Fleet, including the ASW destroyers Admiral Tributs and Admiral Panteleyev, and the corvettes Aldar Tsydenzhapov and Gremychy, as well as auxiliary ships.
More than 30 aircraft, including bombers, are reportedly taking part from the two sides. Observers say the joint naval drills in the Sea of Japan are apparently aimed at keeping the United States and Japan in check.
The latest drills come as the two countries have pledged to deepen military cooperation.
China and Russia have agreed to expand trade, energy and political relations amid the West’s increasingly adversarial approach over the war in Ukraine.
Washington has become more vigilant about the relations between Beijing and Moscow ever since Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin struck a “no limits” partnership in February 2022.
China has blamed the United States and NATO for “provoking” Moscow over the Ukraine war and has condemned Western sanctions against Russia.
Russia has also strongly backed China amid the recent tensions between Beijing and Washington over the US political and military interference in Taiwan.