MOSCOW, May 19 (RIA Novosti) – Russia and China will conduct large-scale joint naval drills to demonstrate the strengthening of military cooperation between the two powers as Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to arrive in China on Tuesday amid worsening relations between Moscow and the West over Ukraine.
The drills will be conducted in the northern part of the East Chinese Sea between May 20 and 26. A total of 14 surface ships, two submarines, nine airplanes, six shipboard helicopters and two operational detachments of marines will participate in the exercise, the Chinese Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“With more united, integrated and real combat conditions, the drill will improve the two navies' capacity to deal with maritime security threats,” Deputy Commander of the Chinese Navy Tian Zhong said, according to the statement.
Compared with the previous two such drills, the Chinese and Russian naval forces participating in "Joint Sea-2014" will be mixed together. In addition, submarines and surface ships will confront each other. The countries’ navies will conduct simulated defense and attack exercises, as well as escort duty, search and rescue operations and the freeing of hijacked ships, the statement said.
A Russian Pacific Fleet squadron, led by the guided-missile cruiser Varyag, has arrived in China to participate in the drills, the Russian Defense Ministry announced Monday.
"There is no doubt the next Russo-Chinese naval drill will serve to further develop our relations," Russian Navy Deputy Commander-in-Chief Vice Admiral Alexander Fedotenkov said, according to the statement.
This will be the two countries' third such joint training exercise this year, aimed at strengthening the cooperation of their fleets and the ability to withstand various threats in open water.
China and Russia have close diplomatic, security and economic ties, and regularly carry out military exercises together. Last year, joint naval exercises were conducted in July in the Sea of Japan, involving about 20 ships and vessels from both sides.
The drill comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to arrive in Shanghai on an official visit on Tuesday to cement economic ties with China, including on energy, the Kremlin said. After Western powers sanctioned Moscow following the crisis in Ukraine, Russia has intensified contacts with Asian countries, primarily with China.