Neither Russia nor China has one inch of coastline on the Mediterranean Sea, making it an unlikely and provocative venue for their first joint naval war games.
The 10 days of maneuvers that got underway Monday will include live-fire exercises in the strategic sea connecting Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The point is lost on no one: A powerful new alliance of eastern giants is flexing its muscles in the very backyard of Western Europe — much as China has done on its own in the Pacific.
The war games follow Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow, where he headlined Victory Day celebrations and spent three days making billion-dollar deals with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia’s World War II allies mostly stayed away.
Russia has been driven into the arms of its communist neighbor by Western sanctions imposed for its role in the bloody Ukraine crisis. The United States and European Union have cut off Russia’s businesses and its government from international lending and provoked tit-for-tat trade embargoes that have hurt both sides. Continue reading