Nine Russian and Chinese navy vessels gathered in the Mediterranean Sea for joint military drills that will go on until May 21, the Russian defence ministry said on Sunday.
The first joint military exercises by the two countries in the region come amid high tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine
and as China is increasingly assertive in pursuing territorial claims at sea. The ministry said a headquarters for the exercises had been set up aboard the Russian missile cruiser Moskva, which belongs to the Black Sea Fleet with its base in Crimea, the peninsula Moscow annexed from Kiev in March 2014. It quoted Vice-Admiral Alexander Fedotenkov, a deputy commander of the Russian navy who is leading the exercises from the Russian side, as saying the 'Sea cooperation - 2015' drills were "not aimed against a third country."