Russia and Japan are set to conduct more than two dozen joint naval exercises next year as Moscow seeks to boost cooperation with its island neighbor.
Chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov said on Monday that the two countries will carry out joint submarine search and rescue exercises next year, and are working on a search-and-rescue deal.
“We are ready for joint work on a draft intergovernmental deal on cooperation in search and rescue of crews of distressed submarines,” Russian news agency Tass quoted Gerasimov as saying. Gerasimov was in Tokyo on Monday where he met with his counterpart, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Japanese Self-Defense Force Katsutoshi Kawano.
Gerasimov said Russia and Japan will carry out 27 joint military exercises next year, which has been declared a “Russian-Japanse Year of Exchange.”
However, Gerasimov on Monday also criticized Japan’s latest exercises around the Korean peninsula, saying they serve to increase tensions with Pyongyang.
Japan, South Korea and the United States launched two-day missile-tracking exercises on Monday, the sixth since last June. South Korea’s defense ministry said in a statement that “Aegis warships from each country will simulate detecting and tracking down potential ballistic missiles from the North and sharing information.”
Last week the U.S. and South Korea carried out their largest-ever joint air exercise, an operation North Korea called an “all-out provocation.”
Speaking after a meeting with Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, Gerasimov said the exercises will “destabilize the situation.”
“We believe that this issue should only be resolved through political and diplomatic means,” he said.
North Korea carried out its latest missile test on November 28 when it launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that the U.S. Department of Defense said traveled about 1,000 kilometers from Sain Ni before falling into the Sea of Japan.
With reporting by AFP.