China and Russia flew nuclear-capable bombers Tuesday in a joint military drill that came as President Biden is in Japan, a senior administration official confirmed.
The exercise demonstrates that Beijing is continuing its military cooperation with Moscow in the Indo-Pacific “even as Russia continues to conduct a brutal war against Ukraine,” the official told The Hill in a statement.
The bombers “traversed the Sea of Japan and continued through the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea,” the official said, adding that the exercise was likely planned well in advance by both countries and included Chinese navy ships.
China’s Ministry of National Defense also confirmed the drill, what it called a “joint aerial strategic patrol,” which took place over the Sea of Japan, known in South Korea as the East Sea, the East China Sea and the western Pacific Ocean, according to a statement posted to its official website.
China added that the flights were part of the two countries’ “annual military cooperation plan.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said the exercise lasted 13 hours and involved Russian Tu-95 and Chinese Xian H-6 strategic bombers.
The two countries have conducted several joint military exercises over the past few years, the most recent being in August 2021. But Tuesday’s joint drill is the first such exercise between China and Russia since the Kremlin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
The senior administration official said the drill “shows that Russia is prioritizing ties with China in the East and South China Seas, not with other Indo-Pacific states.”
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