Why Russia-China Drills in Baltic Sea a 'Political Signal to the West'

© AP Photo / Xinhua, Wu DengfengChina-Russia joint naval exercise
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The navies of Russia and China will hold a joint exercise in the Baltic Sea. According to Russian expert Vladimir Terekhov, the drills will send a clear political signal to the West.

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On July 21-28, the Russian and Chinese navies will hold the first stage of the Joint Sea 2017 exercise in the Baltic Sea.

The drills will involve nearly ten ships of different classes, over ten aircraft and helicopters of both the Russian and Chinese naval forces.

"On July 21, the ships of the naval forces of the Chinese People's Liberation Army will arrive to Baltiysk at a welcoming ceremony and several official events involving the Russian and Chinese Navy command. The solemn opening ceremony will also be held this day," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The main goal of the exercise is to enhance coordination between the two navies in countering maritime threats, to practice joint activities and to promote naval cooperation.

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The active phase of the joint military exercises will take place on July 24-27 in the Baltic Sea.

Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Vladimir Terekhov, a Russian expert on the Asia-Pacific Region, suggested that in addition to their military importance, the upcoming drills will also send a political message.

"This [exercise] is a response to the political pressure that has been put on Russia and China in a bid to drive a wedge between them. This is why the political signal [of the drills] is more important than the military activities," Terekhov said.

According to the expert, this is the first time Chinese warships will be holding joint drills with Russia so far away from home.

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He underscored that such joint activities will also provide support for Russia amid the persistent tensions in its relations with the West.

"It is extremely important both for Russia and China," Terekhov said.

The expert suggested that the drills are likely to raise certain concerns in the West.

"Both Russia and China need to demonstrate that any attempt to drive a wedge between Moscow and Beijing will not work out. Formally, Russia and China are not involved in a military and political alliance. They don’t have mutual defense obligations. At the same time, these relations are very close. Of course, those who want to pressure Russia and China will be put on guard," Terekhov said.

He added that currently Western pressure is focused on Russia and in this situation "support from China came just in time."

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