Next month, the Chinese and Russian Navies will hold their largest ever joint exercise in waters close to Japan. More from Neal Conan, in today’s latest Pacific News Minute.
This will be the fourth consecutive year for joint exercises in the Pacific. 16 vessels took part last year, 20 are scheduled to participate this year including, for the first time carrier based aircraft. The major tactical drill is a joint amphibious assault in Russia's Primorsky territory about 250 miles from Japan.
Japan still disputes the Russian occupation of the southern Kuril Islands in the last days of the Second World War. Recently, tensions flared with Beijing over claims to islands in the East China Sea. Earlier this year, the Russian Navy and the People's Liberation Army Navy conducted their first ever joint exercise in the Mediterranean Sea which involved 3 Chinese and 6 Russian vessels.
In November, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoiyu expressed concern over what he described as U.S. attempts to strengthen its military and political clout in the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. stages regular bilateral and multilateral exercises too. The biggest, is Rim-Pac, held in even numbered years in the waters off Hawaii. 22 countries participated in 2014, including China, but not Russia.