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Chinese and Russian warships patrol off Japan in an apparent show of force

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A convoy of Russian and Chinese warships has made a tour around Japan. The ships of the world powers demonstrated military unity as the Western world and its allies – which include Japan – ganged up on the two countries. Both sides are flexing their muscles in this theater as well.

While no joint naval exercises are officially scheduled at this time, the Russian Pacific Fleet and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy have apparently conducted a joint mission around Japanese waters.

Reports of coordinated military exercises have not been officially confirmed by either Russia or China, although Japan continues to report regularly on ship movements. The naval exercises apparently focused on the islands of Miyako and Okinawa, which are home to 50,000 U.S. troops, and on a corridor about 110 kilometers wide between Yonaguni Island and Taiwan.

In recent years, the two countries have increased their military cooperation and have also increasingly conducted joint naval exercises in the Pacific region.

Both Beijing and Moscow have territorial disputes with Japan, so these maneuvers are definitely viewed with concern in Tokyo. Nevertheless, the two countries have not yet forged an official military alliance.

The increasing movements of Russian and Chinese warships near Japan this week are part of an ongoing military demonstration toward Tokyo, according to Japanese Defense Minister Nobou Kishi.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy and the Russian Pacific Fleet have reportedly sent two separate surface deployment groups around the Japanese home islands since mid-June. “The fact that about 10 Russian and Chinese ships have been sailing around Japan on the same route in a short period of time is an indication of the military presence of both countries around Japan,” Kishi said.

Seven Russian warships sailed near Hokkaido toward the Izu Islands on June 15. Five of the ships sailed toward the East China Sea in waters between Okinawa and Miyakojima on June 21.

The group sailed through the Tsushima Strait toward the Sea of Japan, nearly circumnavigating the Japanese archipelago, he said. On June 12, four Chinese ships sailed through the Tsushima Strait toward the Sea of Japan, two of them through the Tsugaru Strait and the other two through the La Pérouse Strait into the Pacific Ocean.

Three of these ships operated near the Izu Islands, similar to the Russian ships, and moved around the Japanese archipelago.

Russian ships involved included:

RFS Admiral Panteleyev (548), destroyer (Wikipedia).
RFS Sovershennyy (333), corvette (Wikipedia)
RFS Gromkiy (335), frigate (Wikipedia)
RFS Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov (339), Corvette (Wikipedia)
RFS Marshal Krylov (331), reconnaissance ship (Navyrecognition)
RFS Gremyashchiy (337), Corvette (Wikipedia)
Tanker Pechenga

In addition, the Chinese ships:

CNS Lhasa (102)
CNS Chengdu (120)
CNS Dongpinghu (902)
CNS Taiyuan (131)
CNS Zhoushan (529)
CNS Anyang (599)
CNS Zibo (156)
CNS Xi’an (153)
CNS Xiaogan

“The Ministry of Defense will continue to closely monitor the developments of the Russian and Chinese navies in the waters around Japan and make every possible effort to conduct warning and surveillance operations in the sea and air space around Japan,” Kishi said. This is because Tokyo sees these as primarily adversarial naval maneuvers and therefore intends to rely on deterrence.

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