China’s ‘surprise’ naval exercise in the South China Sea
- President Putin orders short-notice ‘rapid response’ exercise
- Tensions continue to grow between North Korea and the United States
THE FLEXING of military muscles has spread beyond North Korea, with both Russia and China demonstrating their might to nervous neighbours.
China held a `surprise’ naval exercise in the disputed South China Sea earlier this week as Russia put on a show of its resurgent military strength in the Black Sea.
China’s activity in the disputed region involved some of its most modern warships.
An amphibious assault exercise – where amphibious landing craft deployed troops – was conducted just 80km off the Malaysian coast.
James Shoal, where the exercise took place, is the southern-most island China has laid claim to in the South China Sea, including the contentious Spratly Islands.
Chinese soldiers and marines reportedly conducted a ceremony on the island, vowing to “defend Chinese sovereignty”.
China’s amphibious ship Jinggangshan is seen during a coordination training with a hovercraft in waters near south China’s Hainan Province, in the South China Sea.
On Monday, Vietnam accused China of opening fire on one of its fishing boats in the area. China denied the claim.
Russia’s Surprise Military Exercises Alarm Black Sea Neighbors
Russia’s surprise, large-scale military exercises on the Black Sea are raising alarm among some of its neighbors. Russian President Vladimir Putin sprung the exercises on his military at 4 am Thursday andshowed up in person, along with Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, to observe the exercises on Friday. The exercises involve around 30 warships, 7,000 servicemembers and various armored vehicles and artillery.
But the Black Sea is a complex geopolitical environment: Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is based in Sevastopol, in on-again-off-again ally Ukraine. NATO members Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania also have naval forces on the sea, as of course does Russia’s foe Georgia. So the international response to the exercise wasn’t entirely positive. As RT put it, “The Russian naval drills came as a surprise not only to the Russian armed forces, but also for neighboring countries’ militaries as well, which were forced to rub sleep from their eyes and rush to their duties as up to 30 Russian battleships left port.”
Russian officials pointed out that there is nothing to prevent them from conducting these sorts of surprise drills. “According to international practice, exercises involving up to 7,000 people do not require us to inform our partners in advance,” said Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Nevertheless, the response from Tbilisi — which suffered the wrath of the fleet during the 2008 war over South Ossetia — was as negative as one would predict. The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement expressing its “grave concern”:
Russia’s action runs contrary to the interests of stability and predictability in the European neighborhood. Georgia is alarmed by the unexpected, provocative activity of the Russian troops, as well as by the potential use of the facilities, weaponry and/or personnel of the occupation forces of the Russian Federation within Georgia’s internationally recognized borders in Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali region, Georgia. http://www.eurasianet.org/node/66761