Russia and China will hold naval exercise in Baltic Sea
Dubbed Joint Sea 2017, the China-Russia maritime exercise in late July will see the introduction of a People’s Liberation Army Navy destroyer, frigate, and a support ship into the Baltic Sea.
The PLAN flotilla will join Russia’s Baltic Sea fleet off St. Petersburg for joint drills.
Joint Sea 2017 follows on the heels of the latest iteration of BALTOPs, a U.S. Navy Europe-led annual exercise that in mid-June brought together some fifty ships and fifty aircraft — including a B-52 and a B-1 — from the U.S., Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and other allied navies.
The two-week naval exercise focused on high-end maritime warfighting drills in a corner of Europe that has been tense ever since the Crimea back to Russia in 2014. The Baltic Sea has also been a space for close encounters between Russia and the United States over the last few years, both in the air and maritime domains.
USS Donald Cook was repeatedly buzzed by Russian jets while operating in the Baltic Sea in 2016, and U.S. reconnaissance flights over the Baltic have repeatedly encountered Russian interceptions, with the Russian jets performing close maneuvers and showing off their weapons load outs by turning the underside of their wings towards the U.S. aircraft.
Amidst the tension, Joint Sea 2017 has caused consternation in northern Europe, and generated speculations about whether yet another great power is seeking to insert itself into an already on-edge region.