BEIJING (AP) — China and Russia are holding joint naval drills off the Russian Far East in the latest sign of their growing political and military alignment. The exercises Joint Sea 2021 kicked off with a ceremony on Thursday in Russia’s Peter the Great Gulf and will run through Sunday. Chinese state media say the drills encompass communications, anti-mine, anti-air and anti-submarine operations, joint maneuvering and firing on seaborn targets. While such exercises have been held before, the reports say this is the first time China has sent anti-submarine warfare planes and destroyers for exercises abroad. China and Russia are united in opposing U.S. influence and are harsh critics of Washington’s foreign policy stumbles in Afghanistan and elsewhere.