China and Russia hold first military exercise since Ukraine invasion

Flags of China and Russia are displayed in this illustration picture taken March 24, 2022. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo

May 24 (Reuters) - China and Russia's air forces conducted a joint aerial patrol on Tuesday over the Sea of Japan, East China Sea and the Western Pacific, China's defence ministry said.

The patrol, the first since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, was part of an annual military exercise, the ministry said on its official website.

The two countries had previously held such patrols in 2019, 2020 and 2021 but in the latter half of the year.

Russia has faced a barrage of sanctions from Western countries over its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a "special military operation". Beijing has not condemned Russia's attack and does not call it an invasion, but has urged a negotiated solution.

Writing by John Geddie; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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