Russia said it will hold joint maritime exercises with China and Iran in the coming months, in an announcement timed to show support from Moscow and Beijing to Tehran.
Russia’s ambassador to Tehran, Levan Dzhagaryan, said the drills would be held in the Persian Gulf in late 2021 or early 2022.
“The annual joint naval exercises CHIRU will be held in the Persian Gulf region,” Dzhagaryan was quoted by Russian Sputnik news agency as saying. “Russian, Iranian and Chinese warships are taking part in it. The main aim is to practise actions on ensuring international shipping safety and combating sea pirates.”
Russia’s announcement came after the Chinese and Russian armies completed a week-long exercise in northwestern China, focusing on counterterrorism operations but also boosting the interoperability of their militaries.
In that drill, 10,000 troops from the Chinese army’s Western Theatre Command and Russia’s Eastern Military District tested their newest weapons. It was the first time Russian troops had used armored assault vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles and other main battle equipment provided by the Chinese military.
The drill was viewed as China and Russia preparing for a worsening security situation in Afghanistan. Beijing is worried about the possibility of Afghan turmoil spilling across the border into its sensitive Xinjiang region.
China, Russia and Iran have also offered support to each other at a time when all three have been subject to sanctions from Washington.
In a telephone conversation newly-elected Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing said that it would support Iran’s “legitimate demands” in negotiations over its nuclear programme.
Xi said Beijing was willing to enhance coordination with Tehran “on regional affairs to safeguard common interests and promote regional security and stability”.
“We believe that the departure of foreigners, as well as past experiences in this country, has highlighted the need for the support and participation of all Afghans to ensure the security and development of Afghanistan more than ever,” the Iranian leader was quoted as saying.
Raisi spoke separately with Russian President Vladimir Putin and told him that “establishing security and peace in Afghanistan has always been emphasized by Iran and we believe that all Afghan active groups should work together to establish stability in the country as soon as possible and make the US withdrawal to a turning point for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
Raisi also praised what he described as Iranian-Russian cooperation in Syria, where the combined forces of Moscow and Tehran have boosted Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and turned the tide in the war.
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