Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)- Iran and Russia are holding joint-naval drills in the Indian Ocean. The ultimate goal is to ensure collective security for international maritime trade in the Strait of Hormuz, which is a highly sensitive waterway as one fifth of the world’s oil shipments pass through it.

The Iranian army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) joined Russian Navy ships in the northern region of the Indian Ocean. Iranian state television network IRNA claimed the three-day drills, named Maritime Security Belt, will cover about 17,000 square kilometers of the Indian Ocean.

The exercises are set to include firing at sea and air targets and liberating hijacked ships, as well as search and rescue and anti-piracy operations.

Iranian Rear Admiral Gholamreza Tahani said the purpose of the drill was to “enhance the security” of maritime trade in the waters. He added the Iranian and Russian vessels will also look to “confront maritime piracy and terrorism, and exchange information”. He also stated the joint-drills were held to “expand bilateral relations” with Russia.

It marks the second joint Russian-Iranian naval exercise since December 2019, when they and China held maritime drills in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman. Adm. Tahani added the joint drills are intended to send a message of “peace and friendship for neighboring and regional countries”.

“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 added.

Hossein Khanzadi, commander of the Iranian navy, also claimed the Chinese navy will participate in the drill. The military leader stated the joint naval drills shows countries in the region are coming together to ensure their security. The Iranian Army website quoted him as saying “It means that global arrogance which until today dominated the region must realize that it needs to leave it.”

Adm. Tahani also reported the Iranian frigate Jamaran led the first day’s exercises, while Iranian and Russian navy helicopters provided air monitoring and support.

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