By Mikhail Aristov
Russia and China started joint naval drills in the Yellow Sea on Sunday. The six days of the Naval Interaction-2012 drills will see the participation of a total of 20 warships and supply ships, as well as combat aircraft. During the war games, the two countries’ sailors will communicate in Russian.
The exercises will involve several simulated missions, including the rescue of a hijacked ship, the escort of a commercial vessel, and the defense of a convoy from air and sea attacks, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said on Sunday. For his part, Anatoly Klimenko, deputy head of the Center of Strategic Problems of Asia and Shanghai Cooperation Organization countries, said that the war games’ aim is to handle interoperability of the two countries’ navies to jointly maintain security in the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden.
“Right now, pirate attacks are not uncommon in the Yellow Sea, the South China Sea and the southern part of the Indian Ocean, which is why the current Russian-Chinese drills are taking place in the Yellow Sea,” Klimenko says. “Russia and China have held an array of joint military exercises since 2005 as part of their strategic collaboration within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which has repeatedly called for fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism.”
Igor Korotchenko, chief editor of the National Defense magazine, says that despite the fact that Russia is not China’s military ally the two countries have regularly held joint war games.
“China is not Russia’s military ally either, which is why speaking of our armies taking part in joint military operations is irrelevant,” Korotchenko says. “But as strategic partners, we want peace and stability on our borders, he adds. In this regard, the two countries holding joint drills and military consultations adds significantly to boosting ties between Moscow and Beijing,” he concludes.
A Russian naval task group includes the Varyag missile cruiser, three Udaloy class destroyers and three fleet support ships. As for the Varyag, it is equipped with sophisticated multi-purpose missile system which is capable of destroying land and surface targets. The warship is also equipped with several anti-submarine mortar systems and torpedo launchers.
The drills are due to be wrapped up on April 27 which will see Russian and Chinese sailors hold a naval parade in the Yellow Sea.