Russia announces major naval drills

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More than 60 warships are involved in exercises in the Sea of Japan and Sea of Okhotsk, the Defense Ministry has said

Russia’s Pacific Fleet has launched large-scale naval exercises in the Far East scheduled to last two weeks, the Defense Ministry announced on Monday.

In a statement, the ministry said more than 60 warships and support vessels, 35 naval aircraft, coastal defense troops, and more than 11,000 military personnel would be involved in the drills, which are taking place in the Sea of Japan and Sea of Okhotsk.

The fleet’s tactical groups and naval aviation are set to perform combat training, as well as practice tracking submarines and work on improving naval air defense organization and logistics support, according to the ministry.

The drills are scheduled to last from June 5 to 20 and will be overseen by the Pacific Fleet’s commander, Admiral Viktor Liina.

The ministry released a video showing Russian warships passing under a bridge, with several others then heading to the open sea.

The major new exercises come after Russia switched its Pacific Fleet to full combat readiness in April as part of a surprise check. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin that the effort involved more than 25,000 service members, 167 ships, 12 submarines, and 89 aircraft.

Putin later commented that the surprise check had been conducted “at a high level,” while pointing out that despite the conflict with Ukraine, “nobody has aborted the task of developing the navy.” 

READ MORE: Russia reveals details of snap Pacific Fleet drills

The exercises also come amid tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, most notably on the Korean peninsula, which has seen repeated North Korean missile launches and joint US-South Korean military drills.

The regional situation has also been exacerbated by a standoff between China and the US over Taiwan. The island has continued to purchase American weapons despite opposition from Beijing, which deems Taiwan to be part of its sovereign territory.

Meanwhile, Russia and Japan remain locked in a territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands. Tokyo disputes Moscow’s sovereignty over four of the archipelago’s islands, which the Soviet Union captured during World War II.

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