China and Russia to stage ‘largest’ naval drill

China and Russia to stage ‘largest’ naval drill

BAIJING - The Associated Press
China and Russia to stage ‘largest’ naval drill

Russian sailors perform a military drill during celebrations to mark the 230th anniversary of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, in the Crimean port of Sevastopol.

China will join Russia later this week for its largest-ever naval drills with a foreign partner, underscoring deepening ties between the former cold war rivals along with Beijing’s desire for closer links with regional militaries.

China has long been a key customer for Russian military hardware, but only in the last decade have their militaries begun taking part in joint exercises.

China’s Defense Ministry said yesterday that its navy would send four destroyers, two guided missile frigates and a support ship for the “Joint Sea 2013” exercises, which start on July 5 in the Sea of Japan and run until July 12.

Single biggest deployment

The ships departed July 1 from the port of Qingdao, where China’s Northern Fleet is based, and headed for the rallying point in Peter the Great Bay near Vladivostok. “This marks our navy’s single biggest deployment of military force in a China-foreign joint exercise,” the ministry said. Gen. Fang Fenghui, the People’s Liberation Army chief of the general staff, announced the exercises during a visit to Moscow, where he met his Russian counterpart, Valery Gerasimov.

The two also announced that another round of anti-terrorism joint drills would be held in Russia’s Ural Mountains region of Chelyabinsk from July 27 to Aug. 15. Fang emphasized that outsiders should not consider the exercises threatening.