Russian and Chinese naval forces have agreed to conduct a joint amphibious assault drill in the Sea of Japan in late August, Roman Martov, a spokesman for the Russian Pacific Fleet, announced Friday. The naval exercises will be held off the coast of Russia’s Primorsky territory, which is bordered by China and North Korea.
“The final planning conference of the joint Russian-Chinese naval exercise Joint Sea-2015(II) has ended in Vladivostok,” Russia’s TASS news agency quoted Martov as saying. “Representatives of the headquarters of the Russian Pacific Fleet and the Navy of the People's Liberation Army of China have carried out major work for the planning of the Chinese warships’ visit to Vladivostok port.”
According to Martov, the drill will involve nearly 20 warships of various classes, as well as planes and helicopters from both sides.
The announcement of the drill came earlier in June, only weeks after the two countries concluded their first-ever joint naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea. The drill, which was held between May 17 and May 21, reportedly involved nine ships from both countries.
The upcoming drill is part of a joint strategy by Moscow and Beijing to build stronger military cooperation as both countries have been contending with deteriorating ties with the West over the past few months.
Russia has been criticized by Europe and the U.S. for its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014, and for its alleged involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. China, on the other hand, has landed itself in a growing spat against the U.S. over the latter’s artificial expansion of islands in the South China Sea, as well as allegations of cyberattacks.
China recently said that cooperation between Moscow and Beijing needs to increase, but should not be considered a threat to any third party. Li Hui, China's ambassador to Russia, reportedly said the budding relations between the two countries do not include “creating a military coalition in any form.”