Last week Iran, Russia and China began a joint naval drill in the Indian Ocean. The naval drill is aimed at improving maritime security.
According to Iran’s state-run TV channel 11 Iranian vessels joined the drill. From Russia, three ships participated in the exercise. While two vessels from China joined the drill. As per reports, Iranian Revolutionary Guards will also join the exercise.
The drill happening in the north of the Indian Ocean would cover about 17,000 square kilometers. The three nations’ naval forces will focus on rescue operations during hijacks, firefighting and night time fighting.
This is the third joint exercise among the three countries. The first drill was staged in 2019 in the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman. The current drill is called “2022 Marine Security Belt.”
According to Rear Admiral Mostafa Tajoldini, Iranian spokesperson of the drill, …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.”
Ever since the hardline President Ebrahim Raisi came to power in Iran following last year’s polls, he has focussed on strengthening ties with “eastern countries” – Russia and China.
Iran was officially included into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in September 2021. SCO is a central Asian security arrangement, where Russia and China play critical roles in bringing members together.
As ties with Western countries and Iran do not show any signs of improvement in recent months, top leaders from Tehran have been visiting Russia and China in recent weeks. The Iranian President met the Russian President on 20 January 2022 in Moscow and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was in Beijing last week.
During Raisi’s visit to Moscow, he described the ties in the following words: “Improving bilateral relations between Tehran and Moscow will enhance security for the region and the international area.”
With increasing tension between Tehran and the US, the government has sought to deepen ties with Moscow and Beijing. Naval officials from Iran have made visible trips to Russia and China in recent months.
The visit and the drill come amid Iran nuclear talks going nowhere. The 2015 Iran nuclear deal talks were held with Russia and China and the UK, France and Germany. The US is not directly participating in these talks.
Russia has its own conflict of interest in Ukraine, due to which Moscow is at loggerheads with Washington and China has made aggressive posturing over Taiwan. The US is opposing any such moves.