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The call came after Russian and Chinese warships held their first joint Pacific patrols through the Tsugaru Strait in northern Japan. Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, warned: “After Afghanistan, Nato has lost its momentum and objective. Nato should refocus on Russia. And a new ‘Nato’, equal in size, is needed to check the threats from China.”

China’s defence ministry said yesterday the joint exercise aimed to “further develop the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership in the new era”. 

Britain has said it will focus on the Indo-Pacific region and America has said it will defend Taiwan if China were to attack.

Relations between the West and Russia and China have been deteriorating over issues such as human rights abuses and cyber security.

Russia said: “The patrols were maintaining peace.”

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