A recent uptick in Chinese and Russian military activities near Japan appears to signal that the partners could boost cooperation in an effort to intimidate Tokyo as tensions mount over Taiwan and Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

After five Russian Navy vessels sailed around most of Japan last month, three other Russian warships – a destroyer, a frigate and a supply ship – have been circumnavigating the archipelago since mid-June, entering the 24 nautical mile contiguous zone around the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in early July.

One of the warships was spotted entering these waters at about the same time as a Chinese frigate, marking the first time this happened since June 2016 and prompting Tokyo to lodge a protest with Beijing — which also claims the uninhabited islets in the East China Sea.