Chinese and Russian naval vessels have begun joint patrols in the Pacific region, the Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday, signaling deepening cooperation as the leaders of the two countries held talks in Uzbekistan.

The mission, which follows the first such joint patrolling conducted last October, will include tactical maneuvering and artillery shooting drills, the ministry said, according to Russia's Tass news agency.

"The tasks of the patrolling mission are to strengthen naval cooperation between Russia and China, maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, monitor sea waters, and protect Russian and Chinese maritime economic activity facility," the agency quoted the ministry as saying.

Later Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held talks on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, according to the Tass news agency.

It marked the first in-person meeting between the two leaders since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

The Chinese military recently joined Russia's "Vostok" exercises that involved over 50,000 military personnel from 14 countries including India, Mongolia, Belarus and Tajikistan, sending its ships to the Sea of Japan.