Russia will send a few surface ships and submarines to the joint exercises of the Italian and French navies due in summer 2004, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said to reporters during his official visit to China.
"It is not the quantity but the quality that matters, we don't need an armada at the exercises," said Mr. Ivanov.
In his words, specific plans for the exercises are being discussed.
Mr. Ivanov also said that naval manoeuvres would be held in summer within the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (including Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan) and the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan). Chinese army subdivisions will take part in the exercises too. At issue are the drills Rubezh-2004, which will train this regional group to neutralise an illegal armed formation infiltrating the territory of one of the parties.
Besides, ways of thwarting drug trafficking channels from Afghanistan to the neighbouring countries will be drilled.
For the first time, aviation from the Russian military base in Kant (Kyrgyzstan) will participate in such exercises.