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China, Russia Conduct 1st Joint Military Drill since Ukraine Invasion

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Russia and China launched strategic bombers over the Sea of ​​Japan and the East China Sea while U.S. President Biden was in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The air exercise marks their first joint military drill since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. officials considered the move to be a pointed signal to the administration as it seeks to solidify regional alliances amid the growing strategic partnership between Moscow and Beijing.

“This … shows that China continues to be willing to closely align itself with Russia, despite the brutality that Russia is committing in Ukraine,” said a senior Biden administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.

The two countries have conducted joint exercises before, but “this is the most significant form of cooperation by their militaries” since Feb. 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine, the official noted.

The exercise occurred as Biden was on his five-day trip to Seoul and Tokyo to deepen strategic ties in a series of meetings that also included the leaders of Australia and India.

On his part, Japan’s defense minister, Nobuo Kishi, said Tokyo expressed “grave concerns” about the flights through diplomatic channels to China and Russia, calling the move especially “provocative”.

“The combined fact that China and Russia were willing to go through this exercise while the Quad meeting was underway in Japan and as events continue to unfold in Ukraine indicates the depth of their partnership and demonstrates that we should only expect it to deepen in the months ahead,” said David O. Shullman, senior director of the Global China Hub at the Atlantic Council.

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