20:57 GMT20 April 2021
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    The simultaneous appearance of Russian and Chinese warships near the disputed islands in the East China Sea is a mere coincidence, military expert Vasily Kashin told Sputnik.

    In an interview with Sputnik, military expert Vasily Kashin said that the fact that Chinese and Russian warships were simultaneously sailing into the contested waters of the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea is purely coincidental. 

    The interview came a day after the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that a Chinese naval vessel had allegedly "entered our nation's contiguous waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands."

    Russian naval ships were also seen in the area at around the same time, according to Japanese media.

    The Chinese Defense Ministry, for its part, said that "a Chinese naval ship sailing through waters our country has jurisdiction over is reasonable and legal."

    One of the small islands in the East China Sea known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese is seen from a Chinese marine surveillance plane
    © AP Photo / Xinhua
    One of the small islands in the East China Sea known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese is seen from a Chinese marine surveillance plane

    Vasily Kashin, in turn, denied the Western media's allegations about three Russian warships being spotted near the disputed islands, saying that the Russian task force included the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Vinogradov, the tanker Irkut and the tug Fotiy Krylov, which was returning home from drills.

    "The Russian ships did not violate the territorial waters around the disputed islands, and could hardly have any impact on the military-political situation in the area. The simultaneous appearance of Russian and Chinese ships there is most likely a coincidence," he said.

    In this context, Kashin specifically pointed to the fact that relations between Russia and Japan have recently improved, and that a high-level meeting had recently taken place where the countries discussed economic matters. There has even been some progress in addressing the issue of concluding a bilateral peace treaty, according to Kashin.

    "In any case, the latest incident is another reason to think about the need to create more effective mechanisms for notification and communication between the militaries of Russia, China and Japan," Kashin said.

    The uninhabited Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyu in China, are subject to long-standing regional territorial disputes between China, Japan and Taiwan. Japan considers the islands part of Okinawa Prefecture.

    In 2014, Japan and China agreed to reduce tensions over the disputed area, but Chinese vessels have repeatedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands last year, according to local media.


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