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China, Russia announce joint drills in Mediterranean
January 21, 2014, 7:44 am

Chinese and Russian officials hold discussion aboard the Yancheng [Image Courtesy: Defense Ministry of China]

Chinese and Russian officials hold discussion aboard the Yancheng [Image Courtesy: Defense Ministry of China]

China and Russia are stepping up a joint anti-terror campaign ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics, even as Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday confirmed that he would attend the opening.

The Russian Defense Ministry says Russia and China have agreed to hold joint naval drills in the Mediterranean Sea.

Russia is on high-alert after two suicide bombings in southern Russia last month that killed 34 people.

The Sino-Russian agreement was made during talks between officers of the heavy nuclear missile cruiser Peter the Great and the Chinese frigate Yancheng, which have just escorted the first consignment of precursors for chemical weapons transported from Syria on board a Danish ship.

“On board the Chinese patrol ship, Russian sailors discussed with their foreign counterparts the possibility of joint tactical exercises in the Mediterranean Sea. Under the agreement, such exercises can be carried out in the near future in an effort to improve the level of operational compatibility between Russian and Chinese warships during joint operations in the eastern Mediterranean,” a Russian Defense Ministry statement said.

According to Defense Ministry sources, the joint exercises to tackle terror threats in the two nations will take place soon. The drills would also practice joint rescue operations.

Islamist militants have threatened to attack the Winter Olympics that begin in Sochi next month. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered security to be beefed up across the country.

In his New Year’s address to the nation, Putin said that Russia would continue to battle terrorists until all are eliminated.

“Dear friends, we bow our heads before the victims of cruel terrorist attacks. We will continue fighting terrorists in a confident, tough and relentless manner until they are completely eliminated,” Putin said.

About 37,000 personnel are now in place to provide security in Sochi.

The Russian President in a televised interview last week has stressed on strengthening security ties with China.

“We cooperate in all areas: in politics, the economy, in the humanitarian sphere, in security, which is very important (I refer here to cooperation in military technology and in the purely military sphere),” Putin said while answering a Chinese journalist at the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, China is also strengthening its fight against terror with enhanced security measures including announcing a new regulation for freezing accounts suspected of links to terror activities.

The latest measure come amid an increase in Beijing’s counter-terrorist activities, even as a group called the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) sent out ominous threats of future attacks on China.

The death toll in the restive region of Xinjiang has reached 91 and the Beijing administration has previously blamed some of the violence in Xinjiang on Islamist militants.

Chinese police shot dead eight people during a “terrorist attack” last month.

The latest attack showed the serious threat posed by separatism, extremism and terrorism, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said after the attack.


TBP and Agencies