The coordinated bomber flights were the first training activity the two nations had done together since President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia ordered the invasion of Ukraine.
WASHINGTON — China and Russia on Tuesday held their first joint military exercise since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, sending bombers over the seas in northeast Asia in an apparent show of force as President Biden was visiting the region, according to American, South Korean and Japanese officials.
The U.S. government was tracking the military exercise as Mr. Biden met in Tokyo with the leaders of Australia, Japan and India, nations in the so-called Quad coalition that was formed in part to counter Chinese power in the Indo-Pacific region. The military activity was a significant sign that the partnership between China and Russia has not weakened even as the three-month-old war in Ukraine has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths.
The bombers flew over the Sea of Japan early Tuesday and continued south toward the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea, a senior American official said in an interview soon after the start of the exercise, speaking on the condition of anonymity. South Korea issued a statement hours later confirming the exercise, saying that two Chinese military aircraft and four Russian warplanes had entered its air defense identification zone off the country’s east coast, without intruding into its airspace. Joint exercises involving strategic bombers are complex and are typically planned well in advance.
The American official also said U.S. agencies had evidence that Chinese naval vessels most likely took part in the joint exercise.