Russian-Chinese war games “Naval Interaction-2012” in the Yellow sea entered their active phase on April 24. 25 warships, 13 aircrafts, 9 helicopters and 2 units of the special forces of the two countries participate in them. Taking into account the number of participating forces and the scenario, these manoeuvres are apparently the most large-scale in the modern history of bilateral relations.
According to “Interfax”, the Russian party is represented in the war games by large antisubmarine ships “Admiral Tributz”, “Marshal Shaposhnikov” and “Admiral Vinogradov”, as well as logistics ships. The detachment is headed by the flagship of the Fleet – Guards’ guided-missile cruiser “Varyag”.
China is represented by 18 military ships, including the flagship missile destroyer “Harbin”, and 5 missile frigates, including “Chzhoushan” and “Suyzhow”, which were performing combat tasks on distant borders escorting ships in the Gulf of Aden.
The scenario includes joint crossing of a “dangerous” area, firing various weapons at sea and air targets, and rescue operations at sea. The ships will be covered from the air by deck helicopters Ka-27; and a sea infantry sub-unit of the Pacific Navy is placed under the detachment’s command in order to conduct special operations.
According to the RF Ministry of Defence message, the goal of the manoeuvres is strengthening and development of the Russian-Chinese relations and strategic partnership, and cooperation between the two countries and their armed forces.
At the same time one of the main aspects of any war games is a demonstration. Apparently, the necessity of such a large-scale demonstration of the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership possibilities has arisen after the promulgation of a new US military doctrine concerning the Asia-Pacific region.
Last November, during his Asian tour the US President Barack Obama outlined a number of tangible changes in the American geopolitical strategy. After the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and in the near future – from Afghanistan, the United States intends to redirect its security policy from Europe and the Middle East towards the Asia-Pacific region.
Russia, which, by the way, hosts an APEC summit in Vladivostok this year, is clearly aiming at the restoration of its role in the region. There’s nothing China can do in this situation, all its main industrial areas being located in the coastal zone, and its export-import transportation passing through the Asian main sea communication lines in the South China Sea.
The US claim to dominance in the region, to put it mildly, confuses China and Russia, and contributes to their closer relations.
“The current maneuvers must demonstrate to the US that Russia and China are committed to military cooperation in the region. And both our countries confirm it to each other,” – believes Viktor Litovkin, the chief editor of the “Independent Military Review”.
In addition, according to the expert, it is important for China to show the level of naval interactions with Russia now, when territorial disputes between China and the Philippines and a number of other countries over the islands in the South China Sea has dramatically deteriorated.
Litovkin draws attention to the fact, that naval war games with the participation of the Philippines’ and the US ships are under way in this same area in a similar demonstrative manner. The American warships calling at Viet Nam, which also puts in a claim for the debatable archipelago, attracts attention as well.
Maneuvers in the Yellow sea are becoming a background for political dialogue between the main powers of the Asia-Pacific region.
Another round of the Sino-American Dialogue on strategic and economic issues with the participation of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is scheduled in the beginning of May in Beijing.
The participants in the dialogue will not be able to bypass the alignment of forces in the Asia-Pacific region. In turn the Russian-American summit with the participation of the newly elected President of Russia Vladimir Putin is planned at the end of May. The reset of the “reset” will hardly manage to avoid the discussion of the situation in Asia.