China and Russia will begin a weeklong joint live-fire naval exercise in the East China Sea on Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, as the two partners step up cooperation in an increasingly tense western Pacific.
“The active part of the exercise will include joint missile and artillery firing against air targets, artillery firing against sea targets, and practicing joint anti-submarine actions with practical use of weapons,” the Russian statement said.
The exercises, dubbed Maritime Cooperation 2022, will feature Russia’s Pacific Fleet flagship — the missile cruiser Varyag — a frigate and two corvettes, the statement said, adding that China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy will send two destroyers, two patrol ships, a multipurpose supply ship, and a diesel submarine.
Chinese aircraft would also take part, it said.
“The main purpose of the exercise is to strengthen naval cooperation between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China and to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” the statement said.
The Chinese military has yet to comment on the statement from Moscow.
China has so far refused to outright condemn Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine while stepping up economic assistance to its neighbor, boosting bilateral trade to record levels in a boon to Russian business amid Western sanctions.