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The official Xinhua News Agency said that the April 22 to 27 drill will focus on maritime defense and protection of navigation. It said the drill will involve 16 vessels, including destroyers, frigates, support and hospital ships, and two submarines.

Xinhua said four warships from Russia’s Pacific Fleet have left Vladivostok for the exercise.

China and Russia have conducted several joint military exercises since 2005 within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The group includes several Central Asian countries and aims to promote regional cooperation and check U.S. influence.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports