Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the upcoming Sino-Russian military exercise as evidence of the progress made in bilateral military cooperation.
Speaking in Moscow on Tuesday, Putin said his country sees China as a long-standing friend that shares many mutual interests.
Putin made the remarks at a meeting with newly appointed Russian ambassador to China, Sergei Razov, according to reports by the ITAR-Tass News Agency.
Putin's remarks coincide with the moving of Russian troops toward the site of the Chinese-Russian military exercise scheduled to start on August 18.
The defense ministries of the two countries announced on August 2 that joint military drills, dubbed "Peace Mission 2005," will take place around Russia's Vladivostock and east China's Shandong Peninsula from August 18 to 25.
Ships from Russia's Pacific Fleet started sailing for Shandong Province on Sunday, Colonel General Vladimir Moltensky, first deputy commander of the Russian army, said on Tuesday.
The fleet includes a large anti-submarine vessel, the Marshal Shaposhnikov, a large landing ship and a destroyer. A company of Marine Corps and some students from the Makarov Pacific Ocean Higher Naval School are part of the contingent.
Moltensky told reporters in the Siberian city of Vladivostok that a company of Psokov's 76th Airborne Division had also moved to the area for the exercise.
Generals and officers of the Russian Defense Ministry and operational groups of the air force, navy and army flew to China on Tuesday, Moltensky was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
"We are in constant contact with the office of the Russian military attaché in Beijing," said Moltensky, who is heading the ministry's operational group during the exercise.
Xinhua also quoted Putin as saying the maneuvers will probably be "the largest" in the history of bilateral relations.
Putin said the Russian army will use "the most advanced weapons" during the exercise.
Meanwhile, when meeting Sergei Razov, Putin said: "The signing of a major treaty in 2001 and settling of border issues laid a solid foundation for long-term historic prospects, and that's not an overstatement."
Putin also said it would be quite reasonable for the new ambassador to focus on economic relations.
"Our trade is developing well enough, but the real prospects are much broader and we have many spare reserves yet," Putin added.
(China Daily August 11, 2005)