Russia, China hold naval exercises in Japan’s backyard

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Russia and China have launched joint naval exercises in the Sea of ​​Japan. The exercises, dubbed Joint Sea 2021, will take place from October 14 to 17.

According to the press office of the Eastern Military District, the Russian Navy is represented by the following units of the country’s Pacific Fleet: the Oudaloy– destroyer class Admiral Panteleyev, Steregushchiy-class rooms Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov and Gromky, the Kilo– diesel-electric attack submarine class Ust’-Bolcheretsk, two unidentified coastal minesweepers, a missile boat and a rescue tug. China People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces to include Type 051D guided missile destroyer Nanchang052D guided missile destroyer Kunming, type 054A frigates Binzhou and Liuzhou (both frigates appear to have been incorrectly identified in the Eastern Military District declaration as corvettes) and an unidentified “diesel submarine”, supply ship and rescue ship. According to the statement provided, Chinese ships arrived in Peter the Great on October 13. The ships were joined by a naval aviation contingent, consisting of twelve unidentified Russian and Chinese helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

Chinese state media sources said the exercises will involve joint anti-aircraft and anti-submarine operations, as well as maritime maneuvers and strikes against sea-based targets. The Russian Defense Ministry added that the exercises will involve coordinated artillery fire and movements to cordon off fictitious enemy submarines. Joint Sea 2021 will mark the first time the Chinese military has sent anti-submarine warfare jets and heavy destroyers for exercises abroad. The press release accompanying the exercises noted that the first Russian-Chinese joint naval exercises took place in the Yellow Sea in 2005, as part of the 2005 Peace Mission exercises. Western observers believed the 2005 Peace Mission was primarily aimed at intimidating Taiwan, but Russian commentators saw the exercises more as a signal to the West that Moscow and Beijing are making progress in the area of ​​defense cooperation. The Russian Defense Ministry noted, without giving further details, that Joint Sea 2020 has been canceled due to restrictions related to the pandemic.

Joint Sea 2021 follows Australia’s recent agreement with the United States to secure a fleet of eight nuclear-powered submarines and the adoption of the AUKUS trilateral security pact between Washington, London and Canberra. Beijing has vigorously condemned AUKUS – which is widely seen as a measure to contain Chinese military power in the Pacific – as “the product of a Cold War mentality and narrow geopolitical concepts.” Li Song, Chinese Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs, added that “their cooperation on nuclear submarines is a textbook case of nuclear proliferation, which flouts the spirit of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons” .

Chinese authorities have taken advantage of recent reports that the sea ​​bass– USS fast attack submarine class Connecticut (SSN 22) collided with an unknown object during a routine mission in the South China Sea, demanding a “satisfactory explanation” and accusing Washington of engaging in a cover-up operation. The cause and all the circumstances of the Connecticut collision was not made public, with the Navy announcing earlier in October that it was still assessing the incident.

Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National interest.

Image: Wikimedia Commons


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