According to the Kremlin, the Russian and Chinese navies have started a joint military exercise in the Pacific. The training includes tactical maneuvers and the use of artillery and helicopters. This was announced by the Russian Ministry of Defense on Telegram, as reported by the Reuters news agency. The aim is to “maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region”.
For the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the presidents of Russia and China are meeting today in Shanghai. Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are attending the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, which begins on Thursday. The group of eight states, led by China and Russia, have made security and cooperation their priority and want to create an alternative to what they see as a Western-dominated world order.
According to Russian sources, the focus of the meeting between Putin and Xi Jinping is the Ukraine conflict. Both presidents met shortly before the start of the war for the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing at the beginning of February and vowed their “boundless” friendship. Since then, China has backed Russia and portrayed the USA and NATO as the main culprits in the war. Xi Jinping is counting on the partnership with Putin in order to jointly front the growing tensions with rival USA.
In October 2021, Russian and Chinese warships undertook joint patrols in the western Pacific for the first time. This was described by Japan as an “unusual” manoeuvre. In August, China sent its troops to Russia to take part in the Vostok 2022 military maneuvers.
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At the end of the week, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet in Uzbekistan. Xi will probably try to show closeness to the Kremlin. But it shouldn’t be too big. An encounter that becomes a balancing act.