Iran, China and Russia hold joint naval drills in Indian Ocean as Putin prepares to face off against the West in Ukraine
- Iran’s state TV said 11 of its vessels were joined by three Russian ships including a destroyer, and two Chinese vessels
- Joint naval exercise in Indian Ocean includes night fighting and rescue operation
- Military exercise comes at a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the West over Moscow’s build-up of 100,000 troops on their border with Ukraine
Iran, China and Russia have launched a joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean, with the aim of boosting marine security, state media reported.
Iran’s state TV said 11 of its vessels were joined by three Russian ships including a destroyer, and two Chinese vessels.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard will also participate with smaller ships and helicopters.
The military exercise comes at a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the West over Moscow’s build-up of some 100,000 troops on their border with Ukraine.
Russia is also being joined by China and Iran – two nations which are at loggerheads with the West, with Beijing recently accused of sending a spy to the heart of the UK Parliament.
Iran, China and Russia have launched a joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean, with the aim of boosting marine security
An Iranian army member fires a weapon during a joint naval drill of Iran, Russia and China in the Indian Ocean on Friday
The joint naval exercise will cover some 6,560 square miles (17,000 square kilometres), in the Indian Ocean’s north, and include night fighting, rescue operations and firefighting drills.
‘The purpose of this drill is to strengthen security and its foundations in the region, and to expand multilateral cooperation between the three countries to jointly support world peace, maritime security and create a maritime community with a common future,’ Iran’s Rear Admiral Mostafa Tajoldini, spokesman for the drills, told state TV.
This is the third joint naval drill between the countries since 2019. It coincided with a recent visit by Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi to Russia.
‘Improving bilateral relations between Tehran and Moscow will enhance security for the region and the international arena,’ Mr Raisi said upon returning from Russia on Friday, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Warships and a helicopter attend a joint naval drill of Iran, Russia and China in the Indian Ocean
Since coming to office last June, Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi has pursued a ‘look east’ policy to deepen ties with China and Russia.
Tehran has sought to step up military cooperation with Beijing and Moscow amid regional tensions with the United States. Visits to Iran by Russian and Chinese naval representatives have also increased in recent years.
Tehran also joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in September, a central Asian security body led by Beijing and Moscow.
Iran has been holding regular military drills in recent months, as attempts to revive its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers founder.
Russian, Chinese and Iranian warships attend a joint naval drill of Iran, Russia and China in the Indian Ocean on Friday
Meanwhile, tensions have deepened between China and the West, with Britain accusing Beijing of sending alleged spy Christine Lee into the heart of the UK parliament.
The Chinese lawyer consorted in plain sight with Prime Ministers, peers and senior MPs, pumping hundreds of thousands of pounds into both Labour and Tory coffers as, according to MI5, she sought to extend Beijing’s influence.
China dismissed the warning from MI5 to MPs that Lee had been trying to ‘covertly interfere in British politics for years, accusing Britain of being ‘too obsessed with James Bond movies’.
Tensions between China and the West have worsened over their human rights record and their claim to owning Taiwan.
The South China Sea has become one of many flashpoints in the testy relationship between China and the United States, with Washington rejecting what it calls unlawful territorial claims by Beijing.
A satellite image shows equipment deployed at Klimovo Railyard in Klimovo, Russia, on Wednesday
Moscow has for weeks been massing tens of thousands of troops, tanks and artillery pieces along its eastern flank, sparking fears of an invasion, though the Kremlin has insisted it is merely a defence force (pictured, Russian forces currently massed in border regions)
Russia is also at loggerheads with the US and the West over its neighbour Ukraine, where it has sent some 100,000 troops that Washington, Kyiv and their allies fear will be used to invade the country.
The United States and its allies today warned Moscow of grave consequences if ‘any’ of the tens of thousands of troops massed on the border were to enter Ukraine.
Following talks in Berlin with Germany, France and Britain, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Russia ‘cannot match’ Western powers’ resoluteness.
If Russia invades Ukraine it would ‘drag us all back to a much more dangerous and unstable time, when this continent, and this city, were divided in two… with the threat of all-out war hanging over everyone’s heads,’ he said.
In a show of unity that has been lacking in recent days, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock added that the West would not shy away from taking action even if that included measures that ‘could have economic consequences for ourselves’.
Having drummed up support among his allies, Blinken will today travel from Berlin to Geneva where he will hold talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned Russia of ‘grave consequences’ if any troops cross into Ukraine, after meeting NATO allies in Berlin (pictured)
Blinken then flew to Geneva (pictured) where he is due to meet Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov today in an attempt to deescalate the tensions with Ukraine
Fears are mounting that a major conflict could break out in Europe, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cautioned that Russia marching on Ukraine would have repercussions beyond the continent. ‘It would be a disaster for the world,’ he said.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, speaking in Australia amid talks on the new AUKUS submarine pact, today warned Putin to ‘desist and step back’ from Ukraine before making ‘a massive strategic mistake’.
‘Invasion will only lead to a terrible quagmire and loss of life, as we know from the Soviet-Afghan war and conflict in Chechnya,’ she said.
‘We need everyone to step up. Together with our allies, we will continue to stand with and urge Russia to de-escalate and engage in meaningful discussions. What happens in eastern Europe matters for the world.’
And Russia on Thursday announced sweeping naval manoeuvres in multiple areas involving the bulk of its naval potential – around 140 warships and more than 60 aircraft – to last through to February.
The exercises will be held in the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the north-eastern Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, in addition to the joint exercise with Iran in the Indian Ocean.
They will draw on 140 warships and support vessels, 60 planes, 1,000 units of military hardware and around 10,000 servicemen, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
Russian military moves are being closely scrutinised as a troop build-up near Ukraine and a volley of hawkish rhetoric have rattled the West and sparked fears of a looming war. Moscow vehemently denies any plan to invade Ukraine.
In a video posted on Facebook, the ministry showed its Pacific Fleet’s newest diesel-electric submarine test-firing a Kalibr cruise missile at a land-based target from an underwater position in the Sea of Japan.
The missile struck a coastal target in Russia’s far eastern Khabarovsk region from a range of more than 1,000 km (620 miles), it said.
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