TEHRAN -- Iran, Russia and China will hold joint maritime exercises in the Persian Gulf around late 2021 or early 2022, Levan Dzhagaryan, Russia’s ambassador to Tehran, said on Monday.
The RIA news agency said the Marine Security Belt drills - also known as CHIRU - are intended to be an annual event. The drills were first held in 2019 and again in February 2021.
“In the end of this year or the beginning of the next year, the annual joint naval exercises, CHIRU, will be held in the Persian Gulf region. Russian, Iranian and Chinese warships are taking part in it. The main aim is to practice actions on ensuring international shipping safety, and combating sea pirates,” Dzhagaryan said.
He added that preparations for the Depth competition, held at the International Army Games 2021 in Iran’s Chabahar port, are also being completed.
The drills, involving naval vessels from Iran, Russia, China and other nations, will be focused on shipping security and combating piracy, Dzhagaryan said.
“Along with Russia and India, China, Iran, Syria and Venezuela will take part in the drills. There are plans to hold a contest between the dive teams of these countries’ armed forces. Representatives of the Russian Navy command will arrive at the opening and closing ceremonies of this contest,” he told another Russian state-owned news agency, Sputnik.
In his interview with RIA, the Russian envoy also spoke about Iran’s “warming relationship” with its Arab neighbors, as well as Tehran’s desire to become a regional production and export hub for Covid-19 vaccines including Russia’s Sputnik V.
“There are tensions indeed ... but I would not be dramatic and say that the situation is more acute now than during previous crises. Neither Iran nor its Arab neighbors are interested in further escalation,” the ambassador said.
Dzhagaryan said he believes that relations between Iran and Arab counties in the Persian Gulf are becoming warmer.
“Russia welcomes dialogue in this strategically important region. This is one of the goals of our concept for collective security in the Persian Gulf, which we are promoting,” he added.
In December 2019, Iran, Russia and China staged a four-day joint maritime exercise in the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman area.
The drills, dubbed the ‘Marine Security Belt’ exercise, covered 17,000 square kilometers and consisted of various tactical exercises such as target practicing and rescuing ships from assault and incidents such as fires.
The Sea of Oman is a particularly sensitive waterway as it connects to the Strait of Hormuz, through which about a fifth of the world’s oil passes and which in turn connects to the Persian Gulf.