International naval drills by the Russian and Chinese navies will be conducted in the Sea of Japan next week. Sailors, marines and naval air pilots of the two countries will be training together in combined operations in an amphibious assault exercise.
A Chinese squadron has left the port of Qingdao in Shandong province on Saturday and headed for Russia’s Vladivostok to take part in the bilateral naval exercise to be held in Peter the Great Bay on August 20-28.
A source close to the operation told Xinhua news agency that the drills "are not targeted at any third party and are not relevant to the regional status quo," stressing that the exercise is part of annual exchange program between Chinese and Russian militaries.
The Chinese task force coming to Vladivostok comprises seven warships, six shipborne helicopters, five warplanes, 21 amphibious vehicles and 200 marines. Russian Pacific Fleet will be represented with up to 20 battleships and support vessels, two submarines, 10 warplanes, nine amphibious vehicles and also 200 marines.
Chinese warships are set to call at Vladivostok port next Thursday, August 20, Xinhua reports. While paying visit to Vladivostok’s harbor, Chinese ships are expected to be opened for civilian visitors.
Russian and Chinese troops, aircraft and vessels will be operating in five combined naval groups and four Air Force groups in Russian territorial waters and in neutral waters of the Sea of Japan.
The Sea of Japan borders four countries Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Russia. So far, the Chinese Navy has not taken part in exercises in this area.
The main declared task of the drills will be practicing protection of naval communications, anti-submarine training, air defense exercise and anti-ship actions.
For the first time ever the naval exercise will include a joint amphibious assault drill.
Deep in the forests and rolling fields of Ukraine’s western borderlands, a partnership that Russia hoped never to see is quickly – and noisily – taking shape.
To the crunch of grenades and crackle of machine-gun fire, United States paratroopers are helping members of Ukraine’s national guard to better defend the country’s east from separatist militants armed by Russia and assisted by its troops.
The vast Yavoriv firing range between the city of Lviv and the Polish border hosts training that Ukraine says is vital to its security and sovereignty, but which Moscowwarns will only deepen the country’s conflict and the rift between Russia and the West.
The “Fearless Guardian” programme began in April and is due to end in November, having provided three groups of 200-300 Ukrainian soldiers with eight weeks of training focused on defensive techniques.
As training resumed this week, however, it was clear that military co-operation between Ukraine and its Nato allies is only set to increase in the coming years, and that skills acquired here by Kiev’s troops could be used to great effect in a wide range of combat situations.
More than 250 US troops are now at Yavoriv, training Ukrainians in a wide range of skills, including camouflage, evasion, bomb detection, marksmanship, communication, battlefield medical techniques and use of night-vision equipment.
The Ukrainians who come here are also diverse: some served as interior ministry troops before last year’s revolution, while others left civilian life to join one of many volunteer battalions formed as Ukraine’s crisis escalated and conflict began.
In such a situation, some analysts say, Kremlin backing for the militants and growing Nato support for Ukraine will not lead to victory for either side, but only escalate the conflict, increase casualties and create a proxy war between Russia and the West with unpredictable consequences for the wider region.
The European Leadership Network, a London-based think tank, said this week that recent major exercises showed that “each side is training with the other side’s capabilities and most likely war plans in mind . . . Russia is preparing for a conflict with Nato, and Nato is preparing for a possible confrontation with Russia.”
Moscow says the US presence at Yavoriv is evidence for its claim that Ukraine’s revolution and political and economic pivot to the west are all part of a US plan to weaken Russia, and to draw more Nato troops right to its border.
Fighting flared between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels in separate parts of eastern Ukraine overnight, killing at least two Ukrainian soldiers and several civilians, Kiev's military and separatist sources said on Monday.
The clashes, near Mariupol in the southeast and at Horlivka, a rebel-held town, formed part of a resurgence in violence that further frayed a tenuous ceasefire and drove up tensions in Kiev in the run-up to celebrations for Independence Day.
Kiev accused the separatists of using howitzer artillery against civilians on the outskirts of the port city of Mariupol. In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blamed Kiev for the violence, giving no detail but saying he suspected Ukraine was preparing a new offensive against the separatists.
The escalation has drawn expressions of concern from Western governments, which regard the ceasefire and tentative peace agreement worked out in Minsk, Belarus, in February as still the best chance of ending the rebellion in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said the rebels used howitzers with a range of 15-16 km (10 miles) to shell Sartana, on Mariupol's northern edge.
The separatist website, DAN, said at least three people had been killed and four wounded as a result of government shelling of Horlivka, a regular front-line hot spot north of the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk.
"They were using heavy weapons. We have three men dead. Another four have various injuries," DAN quoted the separatist mayor of the town as saying.
"We are worried by the developments in recent days which strongly recall preparation for more military action," Lavrov said, accusing Kiev of breaking terms of the truce.
China is believed to be developing a new DF-5B liquid-fuel missile that will be able to strike any target on the planet, reports our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily.
The People's Liberation Army's current or in-development arsenal of long-range strategic intercontinental missiles (ICBMs) are led by the DF-31A, the DF-41 and the JL-2, all of which feature solid-fuel rockets.
The DF-31A, with a range of 10,000 kilometers, can reach the west coast of the United States. The DF-41 has a longer operational range of 12,000-15,000 kilometers and can carry three or more warheads, though the missile is still in the testing phase. The JL-2, which has an estimated operation of up to 8,000 km, can only be fired from a submarine at sea.
US and Japanese media report that China may have recently tested two ICMBs, the DF-41 and and the DF-5A. Military commentator Gao Feng believes that the firing of the DF-41 was part of regular testing, though the DF-5A test was likely part of basic research to develop a new liquid-fuel missile based on the DF-5 or the DF-5A.
According to Gao, though the DF-31A and the DF-41 are either in service already or nearing that stage, China should still have an interest in liquid-fuel missiles because of their significantly longer distances and higher load capacities. These advantages may be why Russia has recently announced that it is developing a new liquid-fuel missile based on its SS-18 ICBM.
China is in the process of updating its fleet of long-range heavy bombers and its newest H-6K should make the United States nervous, military expert David Axe argues.
The H-6K boasting nuclear strike capabilities made its maiden flight in 2007 and entered service with the People's Liberation Army some two years later. At least two regiments of the Chinese Air Force are believed to be operating the H-6Ks at the moment.
"The H-6K is Beijing's B-52 – a far-flying, fuel-efficient heavy bomber combining a simple, time-tested airframe with modern electronics and powerful, precision weaponry. Although to be fair, the B-52 flies much farther with more bombs and missiles," he explained.
The Want China Times media outlet recently referred to the H-6K as a "high cost/performance ratio strategic weaponry platform."
The bomber is the latest and heavily reworked version of Russia's Tupolev Tu-16 a twin-engine strategic bomber. Axe called the Tu-16 "a solid, reliable airplane, much like the United States' B-52, which first flew in 1954 and, with lots of upgrades, is still going strong."
The IDF has already prepared plans to attack Syria in light of a recent military assessment that Iran has opened a new front against Israel on the Golan Heights.
Military exercises in the area over the last two weeks have focused primarily on a scenario of offensive operations inside Syrian territory in response to possible action from the Syrian border such as the infiltration of dozens of terrorists armed with anti-tank weapons, machine guns, grenades and light weapons into one of the communities along the border.
The exercises included possible IDF responses to such infiltrations with troops firing at fixed points on the Syrian side of the border. Simultaneously, officials expect a barrage of mortar bombs to be fired at communities in the Golan Heights during such a scenario.
Commanders in the field put theoretical defensive plans into action using aircraft and combat helicopters alongside tank-fire, artillery guns and even hundreds of reserve fighters who participated in the exercise.
Regarding Islamic State, they have begun to move their focus from north and eastern Syria to the south during the past few months. They are still far from the border fence and are 70 kilometers from Israel in the Druze mountains.
With respect to the Druze, The Northern Command has drawn up plans to deal with a situation in which rebels try to occupy the Druze village of Hader. Many of the 12,000 inhabitants have relatives in Israeli Druze villages. The plans include Israel assistance and messages regarding these plans have already been sent to the various rebel groups.
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