China and Russia said Monday that the South China Sea dispute should not be internationalized and called for its settlement based on negotiation and consultation, Beijing's official Xinhua News reported. Meanwhile, Hugo Swire, the British minister of state responsible for East Asia, said earlier in the day that a ruling -- expected in May or early June -- in the Philippines' international arbitration case against China's South China Sea claims must be binding. On Sunday, a Chinese military aircraft made the first public landing on the Fiery Cross Reef of the South China Sea. "We're aware that a Chinese military aircraft landed at Fiery Cross Reef on Sunday in what China described as a humanitarian operation to evacuate three ill workers," Pentagon spokesman Capt.
Iran concluded a major, three-day military exercise Friday intended to review the readiness of its armed forces. The drills, called "Great Prophet," also field-tested new military technology, including the Iranian-made Karrar tank and the Hamasseh drone, Middle East Monitor reported. Amid widening military involvement in the region, Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani flew to Moscow Friday to meet with Russian military and political leadership, Reuters reported. Earlier this week, U.S. lawmakers pushed to boost aid for Israel's missile defense technology, citing a purported Iranian threat.
"The planned rearmament of contingents and military bases on Kuril islands is under way. Already this year they will get Bal and Bastion coastal missile systems as well as new-generation Eleron-3 unmanned aerial vehicles," Shoigu said during a ministry meeting, AFP reported. Russia has been investing in military infrastructure on the Kuril islands, which Japan considers its territory, leading to strained relations between the two nations. Russia reportedly plans to build 350 structures for military needs on the Kuril islands of Iturup and Kunashir, called Etorofu and Kunashiri in Japan.