Russia, China hold joint naval drills in Mediterranean
The navies of Russia and China have begun their first-ever joint naval drills in the Mediterranean Sea, officials say.
The Russian and Chinese navies began a 10-day training exercise in the Mediterranean Sea on Monday.
Commenting on the drills, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov has said that the naval training missions were not directed at any third country.
Sources say groups of nine vessels from the two countries are taking part in the maneuvers. The ships involved in the drills had already been participating in international anti-piracy escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast.
China’s military spokesman, Geng Yansheng, earlier said at a monthly briefing in Beijing that the main purpose of the drills was to protect the safety of navigation in “far seas.”
Yansheng noted that the exercises are aimed at promoting “pragmatic cooperation between the two sides” and improving “the capability of the two navies to jointly deal with maritime threats.”
The Chinese and Russian armies have increased their military training operation in recent years.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has recently visited Moscow to attend celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. On May 8, Chinese President Jinping during a meeting at Kremlin with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed to invest billions of dollars in the Russian economy.
The development also comes as Moscow is seeking to diversify its markets amid US-led Western sanctions against Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
China and Russia have been holding naval drills in Pacific waters since 2012 as the United States moved to step up military cooperation with its regional allies.