Iran, Russia, China Hold Joint Naval Drill Against the US

An Iranian military ship is featured at Russia's annual Navy Day parade in St. Petersburg in July.
An Iranian military ship is featured at Russia’s annual Navy Day parade in St. Petersburg in July.

Iran, Russia, China Hold Joint Naval Drill Amid Growing Ties

Iran, Russia, and China are holding their third joint naval drill in the northern Indian Ocean, amid speculation that the three countries are teaming up in the face of growing regional tensions with the United States.

Russian vessels, together with the Chinese and Iranian navies, performed “joint tactical maneuvering and practiced artillery fire at a naval target as well as search-and-rescue missions at sea,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on January 21, adding that the sides also “practiced inspection and liberation of a ship that was supposedly captured by pirates.”

Eleven Iranian vessels were joined by three Russian ships and two Chinese vessels, Iranian Rear Admiral Mostafa Tajoldini earlier told state TV. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are also participating in the exercises, with smaller ships and helicopters.

Since coming to office in June 2021, Iran’s hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi has pursued a policy to deepen ties with both Moscow and Beijing. Russia, Iran, and China are subject to Western sanctions imposed over various issues, including Russia’s threats on Ukraine’s territorial integrity, human rights abuses in China, and Iran’s nuclear program.

“Improving bilateral relations between Tehran and Moscow will enhance security for the region and the international arena,” Raisi said upon returning from a visit to Russia on January 21, according to the government news IRNA.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian paid a visit to China last week during which it was announced that Beijing and Tehran have launched a 25-year cooperation deal aimed at bolstering economic and political ties.SEE ALSO:Iran, China Launch Cooperation Pact, As Beijing Slams U.S. Sanctions On Tehran

In September, Iran’s bid to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was approved by the seven current members of the security body led by Beijing and Moscow. The country will formally join the grouping after the technical and legal process concludes, which is expected to take up to two years.

Visits to Iran by Russian and Chinese naval representatives have increased in recent years.

Iran has been holding regular military drills in recent months, as attempts to revive its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers flounder.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing over the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, a crackdown on pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong, and the situation around Taiwan have also been growing.

Moscow is also at loggerheads with the United States and its allies over Ukraine. Moscow has amassed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s borders in recent weeks, triggering fears that Russia could be about to invade its.

According to Iranian state TV, the third joint naval drill involving Iran, Russia, and China since 2019 will cover some 17,000 square kilometers and aims at boosting marine security.

The Chinese Navy has sent a missile destroyer, a supply ship, shipborne helicopters, and 40 marines to participate in the drills, China’s Defense Ministry said on January 20.

The Pacific Fleet said on January 18 that a Russian naval group including a missile cruiser, a large anti-submarine warfare ship, and a large sea tanker had anchored off Iran’s port of Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman ahead of the drills.

Russia on January 20 announced sweeping naval maneuvers in multiple areas involving the bulk of its naval potential — over 140 warships and more than 60 aircraft — to last through February.

The exercises will be in the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the northeastern Atlantic, and the Pacific Ocean, in addition to the joint exercise with Iran in the Indian Ocean.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and TASS

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