In the Baltic sea today begins the active phase of joint military exercises of Russia and China, which will last until July 28. For the first time the Chinese Navy met with Russian on such a Northern latitude. The event will be rather political, but Beijing will provide an important experience of long sea voyages. Such experience is necessary for him: one was sent to the teachings of the destroyers broke down on the road, and were forced to urgently replace the others.
The small scale of the exercise: from Russia involved in the Corvette “guarding” and “Courageous” (both the project 20380), and from China — the destroyer “Hefei” (052D), the frigate “Yuncheng” (054A) and support vessel “Lomako” (903A). At the end of last week, the ships of China arrived at the Baltic naval base of the Russian Navy (Baltiysk near Kaliningrad) to participate in ceremonial events and the opening ceremony. Then began the coastal phase of the exercise. In the course of the active phase of the marine representatives of the navies of the two countries must work coordination during anti-submarine, anti-ship and air defence. In addition, the sailors released conditionally captured by pirates the ship and conduct a search and rescue operation to assist the distressed ship. In the defense Ministry say that after the completion of the exercise of the Chinese ships will go to St. Petersburg to take part in the celebration of Navy Day of Russia. According to “Kommersant”, these teachings were provided by the plan of military cooperation Russia and China signed in June this year.
Joint naval exercises the two countries have conducted since 2005, primarily under the auspices of the Shanghai cooperation organization (SCO). The cycle of teachings outside the framework of the SCO “Sea cooperation” was launched in 2012, and since then there have been six rounds. The navies of the two countries worked out joint actions in the Yellow, Japanese, East China (twice), Mediterranean and South China seas. Maneuvers in the Baltic became a new round of “Sea interaction”.
“Of course, it is primarily a political gesture, but an important military consequences it will have, especially for the Chinese— said “Kommersant” the expert of the Center for analysis of strategies and technologies Andrei Frolov. Firstly, for Beijing is a rare opportunity to have their ships across the world to experience them in a long campaign”. The results are non-shiny: according to the newspaper East Pendulum, in the Indian ocean the destroyer “Changsha”, which was supposed to take part in the exercises, failed the plant, it had quickly changed to a destroyer of the same type “Hefei”. The edition with reference to sources in China, adds that after the incident, the employees of the Chinese company CSIC (supplier of plants) has been called on an urgent meeting in Beijing. Senior researcher, Institute of Far Eastern studies Vasily Kashin considers this incident as critical. “052D ships of the new type, in this case, problems with the plant are quite common— he said “Kommersant”.— You may recall how recently a few times because of this failed new American destroyer Zumwalt”.
Second, it continues Andrey Frolov, the importance of exercises for the Chinese is that they check their fleet is quite unusual compared to the Pacific ocean conditions. “In the Baltic sea different hydrology, different levels of the military environment. The exercises will be closely from all sides of the NATO countries where Chinese is not used”,— said the interlocutor of Kommersant. The command of the U.S. armed forces in Europe (EUCOM) actually stated in advance that it will “observe the maneuvers.” “We support the right of all countries to conduct exercises in international waters and hope that their members will adhere to international laws in this sphere”,— stated in the message EUCOM.
In recent years, the Baltic sea became the arena of intense confrontation between aircraft and ships of NATO and Russia. Sides constantly accuse each other of violating safety rules and “dangerous maneuvering”, which may lead to a collision. The latest notorious incident occurred June 21, when the fighters of the Polish air force F-16s patrolling the skies as part of the mission of NATO Air Policy, closer to the plane of defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. It was in neutral airspace. The press office of NATO said at the time that the approach was carried out to identify aircraft that did not respond to the signals of the transponder.
According to experts, the Chinese visit to the Baltic sea is partly gratitude to Moscow for participation in last year’s maneuvers in the South China sea, which was very important for China. “Those teachings from a political point of view have been costly for Russia,— said “Kommersant”, the expert of the Center for Russian and Eurasian studies in the Kathryn Davis of Harvard University Dmitry Gorenburg.— They showed that Russia values cooperation with China more than a partnership with the countries of South-East Asia. This is especially true in a situation with Vietnam, which also has claims to territory in the South China sea”.
China, recall, is there a territorial dispute with four other countries in the region. Experts from South-East Asia, Japan and NATO have repeatedly said “Kommersant” that in their countries, Russia’s participation in the maneuvers in the South China sea in 2016 was seen as support for Chinese territorial claims. Representatives of the Russian foreign Ministry retorted: to make from this fact the conclusion that Moscow supports the requirements of Beijing to its neighbors should not be.