Russia, China Start Joint Naval Drills of ‘Unprecedented’ Scale

Russian and Chinese warships gathered for the start of joint naval exercises, seeking to extend their military sway in a region torn by territorial disputes between Asian countries.

Seven Chinese vessels including the Shenyang destroyer arrived at Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East, the state-run Tass news service reported Thursday, citing Vice Admiral Alexander Fedotenkov, deputy commander of the Russian Navy.

The “scope of the exercise is unprecedented,” with 22 Russian and Chinese combat ships, 20 aircraft, 40 armored vehicles and 500 troops taking part, Fedotenkov said. The drills, conducted in the waters off Russia’s Pacific coast, will conclude Aug. 28 and feature simulated anti-aircraft and anti-submarine warfare.

The two countries have deepened defense cooperation in recent years, particularly as Russia has faced U.S. and European Union condemnation over its role in the conflict in Ukraine. China and Russia are upgrading military ties with the naval maneuvers that mark the second phase of the Joint Sea 2015 exercise, which began in May when 10 Russian and Chinese ships conducted their first combined drills in the Mediterranean Sea.

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