TEHRAN -- Iran’s Navy chief Rear Admiral Hussein Khanzadi has described the sailing of Iranian ships to the Gulf of Finland, the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea, as “a historic event”.
Khanzadi is in St. Petersburg to attend the annual parade celebrating the Day of the Russian Navy. Iranian Navy destroyer Sahand and accompanying support vessel Makran are also in the Russian port city to join the parade.
Khanzadi said that the two Iranian ships, which began their voyage a few months ago, have now reached the Gulf of Finland and St. Petersburg waters.
“In this long voyage, these ships entered the world’s strategic areas, something that is unprecedented,” he added.
The Gulf of Finland extends between Finland to the north and Estonia to the south, and Saint Petersburg in Russia to the east, where the Neva River drains into it.
The presence of Sahand and Makran in the Gulf of Finland is “a historic event,” Khanzadi said. “This success means the opening of the gates of the North Sea and Finland to the fleet of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army.”
The Iranian Navy chief also said that during his trip, he would meet with high-ranking Russian military and defense officials as well as his counterparts from the countries participating in the Russian naval parade.
Khanzadi has traveled to Russia at the invitation of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
On Sunday, the Russian Navy celebrated its 325th anniversary with the parade of 54 ships, including frigates from India, Iran and Pakistan, and more than 4,000 military personnel.
The voyage of the Iranian warships to the Baltic Sea has been watched closed by the West.
On Thursday, the Associated Press said a large Iranian navy ship was seen in the Baltic Sea and appeared to be heading toward Russia.
The Danish Defense Ministry posted aerial photos of the Sahand making its way through the Baltic Sea Thursday.
“It is expected that they are on their way to the annual naval parade in St. Petersburg,” the Danish Defense Ministry said.
The Sahand is one of two Iranian vessels that were previously traveling to Venezuela and were the first of the country’s ships to reach the Atlantic Ocean.