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The Chinese and Russian military are to hold first-ever joint exercise on how to counter an “incidental or provocative” missile attack. It comes as the US and South Korea are discussing the deployment of advanced THAAD missile interceptors in Asia.
The exercise, which is to be conducted later this month in Russia, would be a computer-assisted simulation of a missile threat situation, which Chinese and Russian staff officers would have deal with jointly.
The defense ministries of the two countries stressed that the drill was not “aimed against any third nation.”
The announcement follows a visit to Russia of Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, who met his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoigu, last week. Speaking at a media conference, they said that their ministries need to implement “greater unity and joint effort” to tackle modern security challenges.
The official English-language newspaper China Daily linked the drill with US plans to deploy the THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea. Washington and Seoul insist that the system is necessary to protect America's allies from a missile threat from North Korea, but the plan was criticized by both China and Russia, which said such a move would upset the balance of power in the region.
THAAD includes a long-range radar system, which would cover large parts of China and Russia's Far East, if deployed in South Korea.
North Korea is developing nuclear weapons and rocket technologies in defiance of the UN Security Council, which imposed harsh economic sanctions in response to Pyongyang's latest nuclear test in January. North Korea says it needs powerful weapons to protect itself from a possible US invasion and offered to suspend its nuclear program if the US stops joint military exercises with South Korea. Washington and Seoul rejected the idea.