Putin: Naval drill is not meant as start of mil­i­tary al­liance

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS -

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin af­firmed on Thurs­day that the on­go­ing Rus­sia-China joint naval drill in the Baltic Sea is not meant to start a new mil­i­tary al­liance.

The co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and Rus­sia brings bal­ance to the world, and it is not di­rected against any­one, said Putin. “We are not start­ing mil­i­tary blocs,” he said. The drill started last week­end in the Baltic Sea.

Putin spoke at a news con­fer­ence in Punka­harju, a re­sort in Savon­linna, east­ern Fin­land, which he was vis­it­ing for the cen­ten­nial of Fin­nish in­de­pen­dence.

Putin said Rus­sia and China have strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion in eco­nom­ics, pol­i­tics and mil­i­tary mat­ters. He also ex­pressed ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the role of neu­tral coun­tries along the Baltic. There are six NATO coun­tries in the Baltic re­gion, while Fin­land and Swe­den are not af­fil­i­ated with the mil­i­tary al­liance.

Fin­nish Pres­i­dent Sauli Ni­in­isto said, “This is not the first ex­er­cise be­tween China and Rus­sia,” adding that China’s naval forces have been in the Mediter­ranean be­fore.

“Also, Fin­land takes part in ex­er­cises in the Baltic, such as up­com­ing Aurora with Swe­den and the US,” said Ni­in­isto. “Aurora is not in­tended to form blocs, either,” he said.

The China-Rus­sia drill, named Joint Sea 2017, aims to carry out res­cue mis­sions and pro­tect the safety of mar­itime eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties, of­fi­cials said. It is part of their an­nual

ar­rives in St. Peters­burg, Rus­sia, on Thurs­day to take part in the China-Rus­sia naval drill named Joint Sea 2017. The drill is part of the two na­tions’ an­nual mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion pro­gram and co­in­cides with Rus­sia’s Navy Day cel­e­bra­tions.

mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion pro­gram.

The Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Navy has sent a fleet of three ves­sels, he­li­copters and marines to take part. A sec­ond leg of the ex­er­cise will take place in the Sea of Ja­pan and Okhotsk in Septem­ber.

The two coun­tries staged a joint drill in the South China Sea last year and sim­i­lar ex­er­cises in the Mediter­ranean and the Peter the Great Gulf in the pre­vi­ous year.

De­fense Min­istry spokesman Wu Qian said this week that the PLA has been strength­en­ing mil­i­tary re­la­tion­ships with other coun­tries and en­gag­ing in in­ter­na­tional af­fairs, such as peace­keep­ing and es­cort op­er­a­tions, “which rep­re­sent the re­spon­si­bil­ity and pos­i­tive im­age of the mil­i­tary from a ma­jor coun­try”.

Mis­sile de­stroyer He­fei

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