The Iranian Navy has launched a joint exercise ‘Iran-Russia Maritime Security Belt 2021’ in the Indian Ocean, which will also witness the participation of Russian, Indian, and Chinese PLA navies.
This will be the first direct military exercise involving the two Asian rivals, India and China, after the disengagement of their troops in eastern Ladakh.
The two nuclear-armed neighbors had been locked in a border standoff in the Western Himalayas since May 2020 before agreeing to break the deadlock recently.
The two-day exercise is aimed at strengthening relations and ‘enhance the security’ for maritime trade in the region.
Four vessels from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy and the Iranian Army’s naval division would take part, while a Russian destroyer, a logistics ship, and a helicopter would represent Moscow in the exercise. The drill area spans a stretch of 17,000 kilometers in the Northern Indian Ocean.
Admiral Gholamreza Tahani of the Iranian Navy said India had ‘requested and joined’ the exercises with a select group of vessels. “The exercise we’re conducting with Russia is so flexible that not only one other country but several others could join in later if they wish to do so,” he said while informing about the participation of the Chinese PLA Navy.
— Iran Military (@Iran_Military) February 16, 2021
The exercises would be a major show of strength against the United States and her allies, as the three major countries with hostile relations with Washington — China, Iran, and Russia — come together for the exercise.
Earlier, ‘RIMPAC’ and ‘Malabar 2020’ exercises were conducted during President Trump’s tenure when the US-China ties had hit a new low.
Now, India’s participation is expected to balance the moves. “It means that global arrogance which until today dominated the region must realize that it needs to leave it,” Tahani was quoted as saying by the Iranian army’s website.
Live firing, anti-aircraft exercises, VBSS (Visit, Board, Search and Seizure), and anti-piracy operations would be the highlights of the joint exercises.
Russia, Iran, and China held a similar exercise in 2019. It is said that Tehran is trying to pressure the Biden administration to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which was shunned by the Trump administration in May 2018.