Russia and Iran have unveiled plans to hold maritime joint naval exercises with China on Friday. The somewhat rare naval drills will take place in the northern Indian Ocean, and is part of a pattern of clearly deepening cooperation between the unlikely allies at a moment each is facing intense pressure from Washington, including US sanctions.
It’s the third time such drills have taken place between the three powers, with the last taking place Feb.2021. Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency cited a military commander who said the drills are to “strengthen security and its foundations in the region.” Further Iran as called it part of ongoing “anti–piracy operations” and toward ensuring “safe navigation”.
Dubbed the 2022 Marine Security Belt, it comes after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss deepened security, economic, and strategic cooperation.
Commenting on Wednesday’s meeting, regional sources emphasized Raisi’s statements as focused on expelling American influence and interference from the Mideast region:
Raisi, at the beginning of the meeting, made it clear that there will be no limits to “expanding and developing relations with friendly Russia,” noting that “relations with Russia will develop into strategic ones.”
He said, “In light of the policy of the United States and the West, our relations must be stronger,” adding, “We have been confronting the United States with Russia for 40 years.”
The Iranian president hopes that Iran’s efforts to lift the sanctions off Iran will succeed.
“We have presented to our Russian friends a draft of our vision on the strategic agreement between both countries,” he said, explaining that Iran has documents on strategic cooperation that can determine the horizon of this cooperation over a 20-year period.”
The deepening ties are sure to rile hawks in Washington – given also in recent years a number of ship seizures in the vital Strait of Hormuz have been cause of soaring tensions in the key oil shipping lane. Russia and China have also stood by Tehran as it negotiations the dropping of US sanctions as part of ongoing JCPOA talks in Vienna.
Few details of what’s expected in the drills have been given, with US publications describing, “The Iranian military spokesman said both navies from Iran’s armed forces and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) will take part in the upcoming drills with Russia and China.”