Russia-China military exercise kicks off on Baltic Sea

Bruno Cirelli
Luglio 26, 2017

Ships of the Russian and Chinese navies began their first ever joint exercise in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, Associated Press reports.

The naval exercises come as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is bolstering deployments to the neighboring Baltic States ahead of Russian military exercises in Belarus in September.

Though China's rapidly growing navy is still focused mainly on the seas around China, particularly the disputed South China Sea, it has extended its reach far beyond, venturing into the Mediterranean, the Baltic and other distant seas. But neither has it joined Western calls for Russian Federation to hand the peninsula in the Black Sea swiftly back to Ukraine.

At a joint ceremony over the weekend, Russian and Chinese naval commanders said the main aim of the exercise was "to train and improve cooperation procedures at sea", according to the Russian defense ministry.

Russian Federation and China have conducted joint exercises for several years, but the maneuvers that began Tuesday were the first in the Baltic, whose shores include Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, countries that expressed concern about Russian Federation in the wake of the 2014 annexation of Crimea. More exercises of the same kind will be held in mid-September in the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk, China's state news agency Xinhua reported last month. Baltic nations like Estonia often complain that Russian warplanes and naval vessels operate too close to their borders without warning.

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