SHANGHAI, May 20. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met on Tuesday at a naval port in Shanghai to officially open joint Russia-China naval drills.
Six warships from Russia's Pacific Fleet, led by a missile cruiser, the Varyag, entered Shanghai’s port of Wusong on Sunday for the joint naval drills with China code-named Joint Sea 2014 and running on May 20-26 in the northern waters of the East China Sea.
President Putin, who is on an official visit to China on May 20-21, was greeted by Chinese leader Xi Jinping as he had arrived at the port.
The Russian delegation to China, led by Putin, includes Deputy Prime Ministers Arkady Dvorkovich and Dmitry Rogozin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Chief of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation Alexander Fomin and Navy chief Vice Admiral Viktor Chirkov.
The Chinese delegation represented at the port of Wusong includes Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng and other high-ranking officials.
Besides the Varyag, a Slava-class missile cruiser with anti-aircraft and anti-submarine striking capabilities, the grouping of Russian warships includes the destroyer Bystry, the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleyev, the large amphibious ship Admiral Nevelskoy, the tanker Ilim and the sea-going tugboat Kalar.
The Russian side also brought two Su-30MK2 fighter jets, combat helicopters and special task marine forces as the Chinese Navy added six of its warships for the drills, which enter the active phase on May 23-24.
China’s CCTV.com cited on Sunday Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Chinese Navy Tian Zhong as saying that the exercise would be “different from previous China-Russia joint sea drills.”
“The two sides will mix all the warships together for the first time, and the ships will carry out battle exercises beyond visibility for the first time,” Tian Zhong was quoted as saying.
Chinese Defense Ministry earlier reported that the Joint Sea 2014 drills are regular exercises held by the Chinese and Russian navies, and are aimed to enhance practical cooperation between the two militaries and to strengthen their capabilities to jointly deal with maritime security threats.
The two nations held naval drills off Russia’s Far East coast in the Sea of Japan last July. Exercises assembling some 20 warships from Russia’s Pacific Fleet and China’s North and South Sea Fleets were described by China as the largest the country had undertaken with a foreign force.