Four of China’s H-6K bombers and two Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers flew over the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan, the Russian military has confirmed. Russia’s defence ministry announced the move was an attempt to improve relations between Moscow and Beijing.
It said it was intended to “develop and deepen the comprehensive Russia-China partnership, further increase the level of cooperation between the two militaries, expand their ability for joint action and strengthen strategic stability”.
The ministry added that the patrol flight “wasn’t directed against any third countries”.
Russian president Vladimir Putin said in October he would not rule out a Beijing-Moscow military partnership.
Before Mr Putin’s statement addressing a potential alliance, both countries had refused to discuss the possibility of joining forces in the military field.
However, both nations had previously praised their “strategic partnership”.
The news came after South Korea’s military revealed it had deployed a team of fighter jets after four Chinese and 15 Russian-flagged aircraft intruded into its Air Defence Identification Zone (KAIDZ).
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) announced the air force had been deployed with tactical measures to fight the foreign jets.
The JCS has said it believes China and Russia were carrying out a joint military training drill and added it would look into the matter.
China, Russia, South Korea, the US and Canada are some of the leading countries to employ ADZs.
Just 18 months ago South Korean warplanes opened warning fire at a similar joint patrol after Russian and Chinese aircraft ere deployed.
Jets from Japan co-operated with Seoul and blamed Russia and China of staging an incursion in its air space.
Moscow and Beijing denied such accusations, leading to a diplomatic row between South Korean and Russian officials.