Joint naval drills between Japan and Russia could take place late September near Vladivostok, Japan’s Defense Ministry official said Monday.

“Search-and-rescue operations are humanitarian in nature,” the official told Nikkei newspaper, stressing the commitment of the country’s military command to renew contacts with the Russian armed forces, which were suspended in connection with the Ukrainian situation.

According to the source, the Japanese Navy intends to consult with Russia to “confirm commitment to the development of bilateral relations in the field of defense.”

Joint naval exercises between the two countries have been conducted on a regular basis since 1998.

Similar maneuvers were carried out in September 2012, when a detachment of Japanese Navy ships came to the main base of Russia’s Pacific Fleet- Vladivostok, and in December 2013 in the Maizuru city area on the coast of the Sea of Japan.

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