Chinese and Russian warships linked up in the Sea of Japan Wednesday for the People’s Liberation Army Northern Theatre Command led Chinese-Russian “Northern Interaction 2023,” reported the PLA Daily.
The five-ship Chinese Surface Action Group (SAG) consists of destroyers CNS Guiyang (119) and CNS Qiqihar (121), frigates CNS Zaozhuang (542) and CNS Rizhao (598) and fleet oiler CNS Taihu (889). The Russian Navy SAG consists of destroyers RFS Admiral Panteleyev (548) and RFS Admiral Tributs (564) and corvettes RFS Gremyashchiy (337) and RFS Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov (339).
Rear Adm. Valery Kazakov, commander of the Primorsky Flotilla of the Russian Navy Pacific fleet, commands the Russian SAG and serves as deputy commander for the exercise. The PLA Daily reported that Kazakov and his staff boarded Qiqihar, which will serve as the command ship. Land-based aircraft from both countries will also participate
Japan tracked the PLA SAG as it sailed through the Tsushima Strait on Monday along with the transit of a Dongdiao-class surveillance ship the day before, officials said.
On Sunday, surveillance ship Kaiyangxing (796) was sighted sailing northeast in an area 93 miles southwest of Tsushima. From Sunday to Monday, it sailed northeast through the Tsushima Strait and then sailed into the Sea of Japan.
On Monday, the PLAN SAG had been sighted sailing northeast in an area 80 miles southwest of Tsushima and the PLAN then sailed into the Sea of Japan. Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) fast attack craft JS Otaka (PG-826), minesweepers JS Yakushima (MSC-602) and JS Toyoshima (MSC- 685) and a JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) of Fleet Air Wing 1, based at JMSDF Kanoya Air Base on the main island of Kyushu, monitored the PLAN ships.
On Tuesday, Japan’s Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Russia and China had been strengthening military cooperation in recent years with joint bomber flights and at-sea exercises
“The Ministry of Defense and the Self-Defense Forces will continue to take a keen interest in the military developments of China and Russia in the vicinity of Japan, and will make every effort to collect and analyze information, and will take all possible measures in surveillance,” Hamada said.
At 8 p.m. Friday, Dongdiao class surveillance ship Yuhengxing (798) was sighted sailing northwest in an area 93 miles southeast of Miyako Island and subsequently sailed northeast through the Miyako Strait to enter the East China Sea, according to a Tuesday JSO release. Minesweeper Toyoshima shadowed the PLAN ship and that Yuhengxing had sailed east through the Osumi Strait on June 28.
On Tuesday, at 8 a.m., PLAN destroyer CNS Xiamen (154) and frigate CNS Yangzhou (578) were sighted sailing south in an area 130km northeast of Miyako Island and then sailed south through the Miyako Strait to enter the Pacific Ocean. A JMSDF P-3C Orion MPA from Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, monitored the PLAN ships, according to a JSO release.
The two PLAN ships were sighted sailing north at 4 a.m. Wednesday in an area 44 miles southwest of Yonaguni Island, which lies 67 miles east of Taiwan’s east coast and is the westernmost Japanese inhabited island, according to a Wednesday JSO release.
The PLAN ships sailed north in the waters between Yonaguni Island and Taiwan and subsequently sailed north in an area 80km west of Uotsuri Island, part of the disputed Senkaku Islands administered by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan. The two PLAN ships then sailed further north in the East China Sea. The JSO release stated that destroyer escort JS Abukuma (DE-229) and a P-3C Orion MPA of Fleet Air Wing 5 shadowed the PLAN ships.