Russian Navy ships will hold missile firing drills in the Pacific Ocean, a senior Russian captain said Monday. The exercise, which will include three destroyers and a missile cruiser, is the latest effort from Moscow as it attempts to expand the reach of its maritime forces and gain military parity with the Unites States. 

"During the air defense exercises, the destroyers Moroz, Inej, and Smerch will carry out launches of Malachite cruise missiles, they will simulate low-altitude, high-speed targets of the Maritime flotilla led by the guided missile cruiser Varyag, which, in turn, will use all its firepower to strike back at a simulated enemy air attack," said Capt. Roman Martov on Monday, according to Sputnik, a pro-Russian news site.

In recent months, Russian ships have increased the Kremlin's military presence in the Baltic, Black and Mediterranean seas and the Pacific Ocean. The new and expansive naval posture comes after Russia annexed Crimea in March last year and has remained involved in the 15-month East Ukraine war. 

Earlier this month, Russia and China announced that they would commence joint exercises in the Sea of Japan in August, where dozens of ships, aircraft and helicopters are due to take part. The announcement was made just days after the completion of operations in the Mediterranean and the Black sea between the two former communist allies.

China is keen to grow its navy in the pacific region in order to counter an increased focus by the U.S. military in Asia, while Russia is looking to diversify its military partners. Moscow has recently conducted military training with former Soviet Republics that remain heavily influenced by Russian foreign policy. 

Russia is also attempting to assert control over the Barents Sea, a gateway to the Arctic Ocean and a region that Moscow has long coveted because of its rich energy reserves and strategically important location.