Chinese navy flotilla departed on Sunday to join Russian naval and aviation troops in the Sea of Japan for an exercise aimed at “safeguarding the security of strategic waterways,” according to China’s defence ministry.
The exercise, code-named “Northern/Interaction-2023,” is the first time China and Russia have worked together militarily since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. It also comes as Beijing continues to reject American requests to restart military communication.
The ministry said on its official WeChat account on Sunday that the Chinese flotilla, which consists of five warships and four ship-borne helicopters, had departed from the eastern port of Qingdao and would meet up with Russian forces in a “predetermined area.”
The Russian navy and air forces will take part in the exercise in the Sea of Japan, the ministry announced on Saturday.
According to military observers quoted in the state publication Global Times, this would be the first time both Russian armies participated in the exercise.
Two Russian destroyers, Gromkiy and Sovershenniy, which are taking part in the maritime of Japan exercise, trained separately with the Chinese navy earlier this month in Shanghai on formation maneuvers, communication, and maritime rescues.
The same ships had passed by Taiwan and Japan before docking in the financial center of Shanghai, which prompted Taipei and Tokyo to keep an eye on the Russian vessels.
Days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “no limits” alliance that they said was meant to balance out US power.