China held joint naval drills with Russia on Monday in the southern Russian port city of Novorossiysk.
China and Russia have held naval drills in Pacific waters since 2012. The May maneuvers come for the first time in the Mediterranean Sea.
Military officials from both sides attended a ceremony to mark the beginning of the “Joint Sea-2015″ drills, the fourth since joint China-Russia sea drills began.
The drills slated for May 11-21, include navigation safety, at-sea replenishment, escort missions and live fire exercises.
The exercises, involving nine surface ships from both navies, are to be staged in four phases, focusing on maritime security threats.
The two sides will prepare detailed arrangements for the drills later in the day, and the ships are expected to leave Novorossiysk for waters in the Mediterranean on Tuesday.
“The joint drills are not aimed at any third party and have nothing to do with the political situation in that region,” a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said.
Last month, US President Barack Obama had accused China of “flexing its muscles” to advance its territorial claims at sea.
Geng Yansheng, a spokesman for the Chinese Defense Ministry, said earlier on Monday that the joint drills “will deepen friendly and pragmatic cooperation between China and Russia, and boost response operation capabilities in the event of security threats at sea”.
Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, had said while holding talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow that China will work with Russia to deepen “pragmatic military cooperation”.
China and Russia are both permanent members of the UN Security Council and have close economic and military ties.
TBP and Agencies