(ANTIMEDIA) East Asia — This week started off with what Reuters called a “flurry of military drills” in East Asia following the latest missile test by Kim Jong-un’s regime. From the news agency’s piece on Monday:
“The U.S. military staged bombing drills with South Korea over the Korean peninsula and Russia and China began naval exercises ahead of a U.N. General Assembly meeting on Tuesday where North Korea’s nuclear threat is likely to loom large.
“The flurry of military drills came after Pyongyang fired another mid-range ballistic missile over Japan on Friday and the reclusive North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3 in defiance of United Nations sanctions and other international pressure.”
In a press release announcing the United States’ joint exercises with the South — exercises that also involved elements from the military of Japan — Captain Cassandra Gesecki of U.S. Pacific Command made it clear the drills were directly related to the North’s most recent launch:
“United States Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft joined Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Republic of Korea Air Force aircraft in a sequenced bilateral show of force over the Korean Peninsula September 17, in response to North Korea’s launch of an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan on September 14.”
According to Gesecki, the drills were executed using two U.S. B-1B bombers from Andersen Air Force base in Guam, four U.S. F-35B jets from the Marine Corps, four South Korean F-15K fighters, and four F-2 jets from Japan.
At the same time, China and Russia are conducting coordinated exercises of their own in the region. From The Independent:
“Russia and China have begun major military drills less than 100 miles from the North Korean border, amid continuing tensions over the isolated state’s nuclear ambitions.
“Chinese warships arrived in Peter the Great Bay, just outside of the Russian port of Vladivostok, for joint naval exercises that will extend into the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan.”
Unlike the United States, however, the allies claim the drills were pre-planned — the second phase of a program that was initiated back in July — and aren’t related to the North Korea issue.
Military officials told Russian news agency TASS last week that the exercises do “not target a third party” and are merely meant “to consolidate partnership and practical cooperation between the two militaries” of Russia and China.
The two countries have consistently stated that threats of military force and extreme sanctions against the Hermit Kingdom will do nothing to solve the crisis on the Korean Peninsula and, in fact, will only serve to exacerbate the situation. Equally consistent has been the United States’ claim that Russia and China have an obligation to intervene.
Following the North’s latest missile launch on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement that Russia and China need to take “direct action” against the Kim regime.
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