Nine Russian and Chinese navy vessels have gathered in the Mediterranean Sea for a joint military drill that will continue until May 21, the Russian Defense Ministry has stated.

The first joint military exercises by the two countries in the region come amid high tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and as China is increasingly assertive in pursuing territorial claims at sea.

The ministry stated May 17 that a headquarters for the exercises had been set up aboard the Russian missile cruiser Moskva, which belongs to the Black Sea Fleet with its base in Crimea, the peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in March 2014. […]