Iran, Russian and China Begin Naval Drill 'To Strengthen Security in the Region'

The third trilateral drill, held in the Indian Ocean, is launched as Iran seeks to boost military cooperation, stronger ties with Beijing and Moscow amid tensions with Washington

Handout photo by the Iranian army of soldiers participating in a joint Russian Iranian naval exercise in the Indian Ocean, in 2021.
Handout photo by the Iranian army of soldiers participating in a joint Russian Iranian naval exercise in the Indian Ocean, in 2021.Credit: Iranian Army via AP

Iran, Russia and China on Friday began a joint naval drill in the Indian Ocean aimed at boosting marine security, state media reported.

Iran's state TV said 11 of its vessels were joined by three Russian ships including a destroyer, and two Chinese vessels. Iran's Revolutionary Guard will also participate with smaller ships and helicopters.

The report said the maneuvers would cover some 17,000 square kilometers, or 10,600 miles, in the Indian Ocean's north, and include night fighting, rescue operations and firefighting drills.

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"The purpose of this drill is to strengthen security and its foundations in the region, and to expand multilateral cooperation between the three countries to jointly support world peace, maritime security and create a maritime community with a common future," Rear Admiral Mostafa Tajoldini, spokesman for the drills, told state TV.

This is the third joint naval drill between the countries since 2019. It coincided with a recent visit by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to Russia that ended on Thursday.

The Iranian navy vessel Makran is seen sailing through the Baltic Sea off the island of Bornholm, a Danish island in the Baltic Sea off the south coast of Sweden, in 2021.Credit: AP

“Improving bilateral relations between Tehran and Moscow will enhance security for the region and the international arena,” Raisi said upon returning from Russia on Friday, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Tehran has sought to step up military cooperation with Beijing and Moscow amid regional tensions with the United States. Visits to Iran by Russian and Chinese naval representatives have also 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.

A Zircon hypersonic cruise missile is launched by the frigate Admiral Gorshkov of the Russian navy in the north of Russia, in 2021.Credit: AP

Russia is also at loggerheads with the U.S. and the West over its neighbor Ukraine, where it has sent some 100,000 troops that Washington, Kiev and their allies fear will be used to invade the country.

Russia on Thursday 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.

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