Iranian seamen salute the Russian Navy Neustrashimy-class frigate Yaroslav Mudry on 27 December 2019 during Iran-Russia-China joint naval drills. (Photo Credit: Iranian Army office/AFP)
Iran, Russia, and China will conduct joint maritime drills in the Gulf of Oman for four days starting on 15 March, China’s defense ministry announced on Wednesday.
According to the statement, the naval exercises will “deepen practical cooperation among the navies of participating countries” and will include “aerial search operations, sea rescue, naval parade formation exercises, as well as other tasks within the framework of the drills.”
The start of these drills comes just days after the US and Israeli air forces began a two-week air drill reportedly focused on Iran, with officials saying the exercises would include long-range flights and simulate strikes in unfamiliar enemy territory.
The Israeli army said these drills would simulate “achieving aerial superiority in the region, joint aerial strikes, area defense, interception of enemy aircraft, low-altitude flights and striking in an unfamiliar area with an abundance of anti-aircraft defenses.”
China, Russia, and Iran started carrying out joint naval drills in 2019.
The last time the three armies teamed up for drills was during the Vostok 2022 exercise in September. Military personnel from India, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Algeria, and other states also took part.
Over the weekend, Iran finalized a deal for the purchase of 24 Su-35 fighter jets with the Kremlin. This came just days after China brokered a historic deal for Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic ties after a break of seven years.
Moreover, Beijing is set to host a high-level gathering of Gulf Arab states and Iranian officials later this year as part of President Xi Jinping’s push to fill the void left by the US in West Asia.
The rapprochement of ties between Tehran and Riyadh set off alarm bells in both Israel and the US. In Tel Aviv, political leaders traded blame for failing to stop this deal, while in Washington, officials have been trying to downplay its importance.