Tu-95 And H-6 Bombers Patrol Together In East China Sea To Pacific, US: China Will Not Leave Russia
The Russian Tu-95MSM bomber carries the Raduga Kh-101 cruise missile. (Wikimedia Commons/Dmitry Terekhov)

JAKARTA - The drills of Russian and Chinese strategic bombers on joint patrols in East Asia on Tuesday demonstrated the depth of alignment between the two countries, a senior US government official said.

The Russian Defense Ministry earlier confirmed the joint patrol, which it said lasted 13 hours over the seas of Japan and East China, involved Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers and China's Xian H-6. Read more

Planes from the air forces of Japan and South Korea are shadowing Russian and Chinese jets for part of the drills, Russia said.

The move marks the first joint military exercises by China and Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24, according to US officials, and it comes at the end of US President Joe Biden's trip to the region.

"We think it shows that China continues to be willing to align itself with Russia, including through military cooperation," the official said, adding that such actions should be planned well in advance.

"China will not abandon Russia. On the contrary, the exercise shows China is ready to help Russia defend its east, while Russia is at war in its west," the official said.

The senior administration official added that the bomber drills indicated that Russia would support China in its territorial disputes with neighbors in the East and South China Seas.

It was unclear whether the drills were planned to coincide with Biden's first trip as president to Asia, where he has visited allies South Korea and Japan.

On Tuesday joined the democratic leaders of Japan, India and Australia, collectively known as the Quad, for their second face-to-face meeting.

Meanwhile, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the drills were likely planned well in advance, suggesting the "borderless" strategic partnership that Beijing and Moscow announced weeks before the Ukraine invasion was "quite alive and well."

"On the other hand, the president's successful visit, in contrast to what we have seen from Russia and China, it demonstrates our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region," he said.

President Biden has emphasized during the trip, which was partly meant to counter China's growing influence in the region, with the United States standing by its allies and partners, to push for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

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