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BEIJING, June 22. /TASS/. The Russian-Chinese military exercises dubbed "Maritime Cooperation-2017" are not directed against other countries, a report from the Chinese Defense Ministry, obtained by TASS, says.
"These exercises are annually conducted by the two countries and are not directed against a third party," the defense ministry said, responding to TASS’ request to comment on the recent statement made by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius.
The report says that the drills are being conducted in order to "strengthen and bolster Russian-Chinese relations regarding overall strategic cooperation," extend cooperation between the two countries’ armies and enhance the Russian and Chinese military fleets’ potential at joint responses to threats.
Earlier Linkevicius stated that China, through participation in joint military maneuvers with Russia, might cause an escalation of tensions in the region. Lithuania, he said, plans "to keep watch over the drills for a possible offensive character."
As previously reported, a Chinese surface combatant squadron had left Sanya Port and steered to Russia to take part in the Maritime Cooperation -2017 military exercises between Russia and China. The maneuvers are expected to run from mid-July to mid-September in the Baltic Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan.