North Korea: Russia and China carry out military drills close to border

Joint submarine rescue missions and anti-submarine drills involving ships and aircraft take place days after Pyongyang's mid-range ballistic missile test

Tom Batchelor
Monday 18 September 2017 14:40
Comments
US B-1B bombers, F-35B stealth fighter jets and South Korean F-15K fighter jets fly over the Korean Peninsula during a joint drills; China and Russia are holding their own joint naval exercise in the region
US B-1B bombers, F-35B stealth fighter jets and South Korean F-15K fighter jets fly over the Korean Peninsula during a joint drills; China and Russia are holding their own joint naval exercise in the region

Russia and China have begun major military drills less than 100 miles from the North Korean border, amid continuing tensions over the isolated state's nuclear ambitions.

Chinese warships arrived in Peter the Great Bay, just outside of the Russian port of Vladivostok, for joint naval exercises that will extend into the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan.

The drills, which follows China-Russian naval exercise in the Baltic in July and runs until 26 September, have not been directly linked to the diplomatic crisis engulfing the region.

But they come amid a flurry of air, sea and land exercises on the Korean peninsula triggered by the North’s missile programme.

Both sides will carry out joint submarine rescue missions and anti-submarine drills involving ships and aircraft.

Military sources told Russian news agency Tass the drills aimed to “consolidate partnership and practical cooperation between the two militaries” and were not aimed at any one country.

The US, South Korea and Japan conducted their own bombing drills involving two American B-1B bombers and four F-35 jets from Guam and Japan.

They were joined by four South Korean F-15K fighters in drills that are now being held on a near-weekly basis, South Korea's defence ministry said.

Both exercises come before a UN General Assembly meeting on Tuesday, where the threat from North Korea is likely to dominate.

China has faced criticism for failing to act decisively against Pyongyang after a string of nuclear and missile tests this summer; its latest coming last Friday over Japan.

But its ambassador to the US said China would never accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state.

World leaders react to North Korea's latest missile launch

China's Communist Party newspaper, the People's Daily, criticised the US for demanding that Beijing put more pressure on North Korea to rein in its weapons programmes.

It said Beijing "will never accept the 'responsibility' imposed by the US".

China accounts for about 90 per cent of North Korea's trade.

Later, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters that "some related parties" - a reference to the US and North Korea - "keep sending threatening messages both in words and deeds that include warnings of military action".

"These kinds of actions don't help solve the problem but further complicate the situation," he said.

Much like China, Russia’s reaction to the North Korean standoff has been subdued, with the foreign ministry calling the missile launch “regrettable”.

Moscow has urged “all the parties involved [to] stop escalating tensions that accompany each new cycle of responses and counter responses”, laying partial blame on Washington for ratcheting up tensions.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in