As part of growing informal partnership between the two militaries, the navies of China and Russia plan to hold joint drills in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time in mid-May, China's Defense Ministry stated.
The "Joint Sea 2015" exercises will feature nine surface ships, including three from China that
are currently taking part in anti-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia.
The ships will meet in the Mediterranean next month to conduct a series of surface exercises to include live fire drills. This is for the first time the two navies have trained in the Mediterranean. This is a sign of deepening military-to-military cooperation between Russia and China.
“The purpose of the exercise is to strengthen the pragmatic cooperation between China and Russia and to improve the capabilities of the two navies to deal with maritime threats,” said ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Geng Yansheng on Thursday.
“What needs to be stressed is that, the joint exercise is not targeting any third party and not related to the regional situation.”
He said the drills did not target any third parties and were not a response to fighting and instability in places such as Libya and Syria, he said.
Geng did not reveal a specific date for the Chinese and Russian naval drills. The military exercise will reportedly focus upon “navigation safety, at-sea replenishment, escort missions and, live-fire exercises.”
The move comes as the United States ramps up military cooperation with its allies in Asia in response to China's pursuit of maritime territorial claims.
China and Russia frequently
align on major international issues and Beijing has refused to join in the condemnations and economic sanctions leveled against Moscow for its backing of the Ukrainian rebels.
According to NY Times, one of China’s main military goals is to develop a navy that goes beyond coastal waters and can travel the world’s oceans, and while military analysts said the drills in the Mediterranean appeared
to be modest, they would be the farthest from home the Chinese Navy has done.