Putin inspects joint military drills in Far East

Russian President Vladimir Putin inspected a large-scale military exercise on Tuesday that his nation is holding in its Far East region with China, India and other countries.

Putin observed part of the exercise, including artillery firing drills. He used binoculars to watch them through a dense fog, as Sergei Shoigu, the defense minister, explained.

Russia's defense ministry said the same day that it had carried out test firing of its surface-to-ship missile system on Matua Island for the first time.

The Bastion system was deployed last year on the island northeast of the four islands that Russia controls but Japan claims.

On Wednesday, Putin plans to deliver a speech at the plenary session of an international economic forum in Vladivostok.

The meeting is expected to be attended by Li Zhanshu, the chairman of China's National People's Congress Standing Committee. Myanmar's military chief, Min Aung Hlaing, will also be there.

Putin is expected to stress stronger military and economic relations with China in the face of increasing sanctions on Russia from Western countries and Japan.

On Monday, Russia unilaterally announced the revocation of bilateral agreements with Japan that allow former Japanese residents of four Russian-held islands to travel there without visas.

Russia controls the islands. Japan claims them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. It says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two.