Putin praises Pacific drills as China minister visits

AFP , Monday 17 Apr 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday praised the "very high level" of military drills in the Pacific as Moscow seeks closer ties with China amid a stand-off with the West.

Putin, Shoigu, Shangfu
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu met with Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 16, 2023. AFP


The surprise drills announced last week come as Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu is in Russia on a visit that will last until Wednesday.

Putin received Chinese leader Xi Jinping last month in Moscow for a summit showing the nations' united front against the West.

During a meeting with Putin and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Sunday, Li hailed ties with Moscow, saying they "surpass the military-political alliances of the Cold War era".

The exercises in the Pacific involved over 25,000 Russian military personnel, 167 warships and support vessels, including 12 submarines as well as 89 aircraft and helicopters, Shoigu said.

"The first stage of this surprise inspection did indeed take place at a very high level," Putin said during a televised meeting with Shoigu.

"Today we have clear priorities for the use of the armed forces and, above all, this concerns the Ukrainian direction and everything related to protecting our people in the Donbas" in eastern Ukraine, Putin said.

Both Russia and China have expressed "concern" over NATO's growing presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

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