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China, Russia Unveil First-Ever Mediterranean Joint Naval Exercise

03.05.2015  |  22:55
China, Russia Unveil First-Ever Mediterranean Joint Naval Exercise

Sabre-rattling much? For the first time in history, Chinese and Russian navies will begin a significant joint naval exercise in The Mediterranean Sea in mid-May

As RT reports, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng, "The aim is to deepen both countries' friendly and practical cooperation, and increase our navies' ability to jointly deal with maritime security threats," but diplomatically added "these exercises are not aimed at any third party and have nothing to do with the regional situation." Against a background of this week's "upgraded Japan-American military relationship" following Abe's visit to Obama, as one analyst notes, "the geopolitical significance of its exercising alongside Russia will not be lost on the U.S. and NATO."

The Chinese and Russian Navies have exercised together since 2012 in waters off Russia’s eastern seaboard; but as RT reports,

The Russian and Chinese Navies are to hold a joint exercise in the Mediterranean Sea in mid-May, a first in that part of the world. A total of nine warships from the two countries are to participate, Beijing said.

"The aim is to deepen both countries' friendly and practical cooperation, and increase our navies' ability to jointly deal with maritime security threats," Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said on Thursday in a monthly news briefing.

"What needs saying is that these exercises are not aimed at any third party and have nothing to do with the regional situation," he added, saying that the Chinese Navy would contribute its warships currently on an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden.

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Russia and China have previously held joint naval exercises in the Pacific in waters they both have direct access to. The Mediterranean Sea Cooperation-2015 drill would focus on navigation safety, at-sea replenishment, escort missions and live fire exercises, Geng said.

Moscow and Beijing are intensifying defense cooperation as both countries oppose US criticism of its military policies. China is being accused of aggressive deployments in the South China Sea, where it is contesting territories with several regional nations. The PLA’s Navy and Air Force have been increasingly at odds with Japan and South Korea, key American allies.

The implications and messaging are significant, as The NY Times reports, the two countries want to show they have escalated their strategic partnership.

“It suggests Russia and China are sending a political signal to the U.S. and Europe that the continental powers are standing together to support each other’s expanding interests in the face of maritime opposition,”

...

“The geopolitical significance of its exercising alongside Russia will not be lost on the U.S. and NATO,”  Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing said, “although it would be churlish of anyone in the West to complain about it, given the number of joint drills the U.S. and its allies conduct in China’s near seas.”

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Following yesterday's US decision to safeguard vessels through the Strait of Hormuz, it appears the proxy wars are becoming less proxy.




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