rus chi ships firingLess than three days ago, on August 20, 2015, a large joint naval exercise, involving Russian and Chinese forces started in the Sea of Japan, and off the coast of Vladivostok. The Washington Times is reporting that six helicopters, five fixed-wing combat aircraft, 21 pieces of amphibious equipment (which means combat ships – Xinhua is reporting that 7 warships sailed to the north from the port of Qingdao – and landing ships of different types) and at least 200 marines will be deployed by China to the area where the exercise is taking place. Russia is deploying 16 surface ships, two submarines, a dozen naval aircraft, nine amphibious vehicles and 200 marines. The same open source says the ongoing exercise, which will come to an end on August 28, is “the largest ever” of this type of the two Navies involved[1].

As early as mid-July, the USNI (United States Naval Institute) News reported that this massive naval exercise is going to take place, and quoted Roman Martov, the spokesman of the Russian Pacific Fleet, who said that “these maneuvers will for the first time involve a joint amphibious assault drill in Russia’s Primorsky territory with the participation of carrier-based aircraft”. The same source is also quoting the Russian Defense minister Sergei Shoigu, who said that China and Russia have already “expressed concern over U.S. attempts to strengthen its military and political clout in the [Asia-Pacific] region”[2].

On August 20, Russia Today (RT) reported that “Seven Chinese ships led by the missile destroyer Shenyan arrived in Vladivostok on Thursday to meet the Russian Navy and hold ‘Joint Sea 2015’ military exercises. Twenty-two ships, 20 airplanes and helicopters alongside other military vehicles are taking part in the drills. ‘Joint Sea 2015’ will become the largest naval drills for the two countries in the Pacific”[3].

Quite clearly, this naval exercise is a political-military tool directly aimed at telling the U.S. military: “you have now some serious competitors in the Pacific!” But the forces used by China and Russia, together – only some 20 combat ships and 400 marines – are not large enough to be able to accomplish the political goal of the joint naval exercise. The U.S. are easily dominating, strategically speaking, the largest part of the Pacific.

[1] Guy TAYLOR, “U.S. Navy on alert: China, Russia to launch largest-ever joint navy exercise”, The Washington Times, August 18, 2015, text available – and consulted – at the Internet address http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/aug/18/china-russia-to-launch-largest-ever-joint-navy-exe/

[2] Sam LaGRONE, “China, Russia Planning 20-Ship Naval Exercise in the Sea of Japan in August”, USNI News, August 17, 2015, at the Internet address http://news.usni.org/2015/07/17/china-russia-planning-20-ship-naval-exercise-in-the-sea-of-japan-in-august

[3] “Chinese Navy ships arrive in Russian Far East for joint military drills”, Russia Today (RT), august 20, 2015, at the Internet address https://www.rt.com/in-motion/312960-china-russia-naval-dills/

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