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Sino-Iran-Russia naval exercises response to Western sanctions

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The 2022 Marine Security Belt naval drills, which involve Iran, Russia, and China, have kicked off in the northern part of the Indian Ocean, Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported on Friday.

“According to the plan, various tactical maneuvers will take place, including actions to rescue a ship on fire, release a hijacked ship and hit naval targets during the day and at night,” said spokesperson for the drills Admiral Mostafa Tajoddini.

The maneuvers, dubbed 2022 Marine Security Belt, will be the third joint naval exercises between the three countries since 2019, and will continue in the future, said the spokesman, Mostafa Tajoldin.

The Russian Eastern Military District’s press service for the Pacific Fleet said on January 19 that three Pacific Fleet ships had arrived in the Iranian port of Chabahar for the joint exercise. The naval task force embarked on a long-distance mission from Russia’s Vladivostok a few days before the start of 2022.

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China said it has sent its naval missile destroyer Urumqi to the Gulf of Oman as part of CHIRU-2Q22 joint drills with the Russian and Iranian navies. It also sent helicopters and marines for the exercise, the country’s foreign ministry said.

Since coming to office in June 2021, hard-line Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has pursued a policy of deepening ties with both Moscow and Beijing.

The latest maneuvers came as Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart, Ebrahim Raisi, met in Moscow. Meanwhile, Iranian President also addressed the Russian Duma, sign of increasing deep Russian-Iranian cooperation.

Earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian paid a visit to China last week during which it was announced that Beijing and Tehran had launched a 25-year cooperation deal aimed at bolstering economic and political ties.

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The Russian-Sino-Persian cooperation is ever increasing as US and its allies have adopted harsh policies against three. Last year, Iran’s bid to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was approved by the body led by Beijing and Moscow.

The country will formally join the grouping after the technical and legal process concludes, which is expected to take up to two years.

What join three countries together at this critical juncture is the Western sanctions ranging from Russia on Ukraine’s territorial integrity, human rights abuses in China, and Iran’s nuclear program.

The Iranian military spokesman said both navies from Iran’s armed forces and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) will take part in the upcoming drills with Russia and China.

The maneuvers are to include tactical exercises such as rescuing a burning vessel, releasing a hijacked vessel, and shooting at air targets at night.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that it was “not time to give up” on talks with Iran aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

“There is some progress being made,” Biden said at a press conference to mark his first year in the White House.

“P5+1 are on the same page but it remains to be seen,” Biden said in reference to the nations taking part in the negotiations in Vienna.

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