Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced today, Friday, that the Russian fleet in the Pacific Ocean has been put on high alert, and the start of previously unannounced maneuvers, in an atmosphere of rapprochement with Beijing and tension with the West.
Under orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Shoigu said the Russian Pacific Fleet, stationed in Vladivostok in the Far East, would "in a short time" conduct combat exercises in "near and distant" sea areas.
During these exercises, the Pacific Fleet will train to "repel massive air attacks", "search for and destroy submarines", as well as fire from torpedoes, artillery and missiles, Shoigu said during a meeting with senior officers.
He also explained that these maneuvers aim to "strengthen the capabilities of the armed forces to repel an attack."
Shoigu said that the commander of the entire Russian fleet, Admiral Nikolai Evminov, will supervise these exercises.
For his part, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that these maneuvers are "not linked" to the presence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the Asia-Pacific region, where attention is focused on China and its American rival.
"It is a normal and routine military training, development of our armed forces and verification of their combat readiness," he said, noting that it is "not scheduled" currently for Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend.
He added, "The practice of unannounced checks is continuous and usual, and in recent years it has been steadily."
The Russian maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean come at a time when Beijing, which is constantly conducting joint military exercises with the Russian army, announced today, Friday, that the Chinese Defense Minister will visit Russia between April 16 and 19.