A Russian military official said Thursday that planned naval drills by Russia and China off the coast of Vladivostok in the Sea of Japan are not a show of strength aimed at any other country, according to a report by the government-run Russia news agency Tass. The drills, which are set to be the biggest in the history of military cooperation between the two countries, come during a time of deep division between China and Russia in the East and the U.S.-led West.
While Russia finds itself in a standoff with NATO over its annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and its continued involvement in the east Ukraine war, China is attempting to improve its maritime capabilities as it looks to establish a dominant presence in the East and South China seas. Beijing is also wary of the so-called U.S. foreign policy pivot toward Asia.
"The major goals of the exercises will be to train and improve the organization of joint actions in the sea, on land and in the air," said Russian Eastern Military District spokesman Capt. 1st Rank Roman Martov. "The exercises will culminate in joint amphibious and airborne landing at the firing range at Cape Klerk in the southern Primorye Territory [in Russia’s Far East]. The joint landing of the Russian and Chinese marine corps on the Russian territory will be conducted for the first time.”
During the active phase of the exercise, which will take place over three days at the end of August, 22 warships, 20 aircraft, 500 amphibious soldiers and more than 40 armored vehicles will come together in maneuvers described by the deputy commander of the Russian navy, Vice Adm. Alexander Fedotenkov, as “unprecedented” in size and scope.
The exercises are the second part of joint military drills by the two countries. In May, China and Russia conducted readiness exercises in the Mediterranean Sea.