Russia’s Defence Ministry released images on Thursday allegedly showing Moscow and China conducting joint war drills in the Sea of Japan.
According to the Kremlin, the exercises are taking place between the 20th and 23rd of July in a bid to boost military ties between the two powers.
Relations between Moscow and Beijing have grown closer since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, a move China has not condemned.
“The main goal of the drills is to strengthen naval cooperation between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China and to maintain stability and peace in the Asia-Pacific region” read the attached video description.
“The joint practical actions will include anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, the sea and air escorting of ships as well as the guarding and defending of ship detachments moored in unprotected shipping lanes.
“They will also ensure the safety of communications in the waters and airspace of the Sea of Japan. Joint artillery firing is planned,” the message concluded.
China claims to be neutral in the conflict, but has accused Washington and its allies of provoking Russia and has maintained robust economic, diplomatic and trade ties with Moscow. The exercise involves more than 10 ships and 30-plus aircraft, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency.
China has backed Russia in opposing US condemnation of the Ukraine invasion in international forums but says it won’t provide arms to either side in the war.
China has reassured Russia of its continued support since the uprising. The Minister of National Defence Li Shangfu told Russian Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov that China hoped for increased exchanges, joint exercises and other forms of cooperation to help defence ties “reach a new level”.
China operates the world’s largest navy by the number of hulls and vastly outstrips Russia’s navy in both size and technical ability. The countries’ fleets have held a series of exercises and joint manoeuvres since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began, as have their air forces.