China, Russia and Iran to hold navy drills aimed at ‘regional security’
- Top Iranian naval official reportedly confirms joint exercise will be held before end of March and says other countries have been invited to take part
- The news comes as US-led coalition launches new round of strikes on Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen in response to Red Sea cargo ship attack
Iranian and Russian media quoted Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, commander of Iran’s navy, as saying that the drills would be held before the end of March and were aimed at “regional security”.
According to Iran’s Tasnim news agency – which called the drills a “war game” – Irani said a number of other countries had been invited to take part in the exercise.
This year’s drills come as tensions simmer in the Middle East, with a US-led coalition launching a third round of strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen on Saturday.
The strikes were in response to earlier attacks by the Houthi rebel group on commercial vessels in the Red Sea. The Pentagon said some 36 targets in 13 locations in Yemen were struck in the latest round of strikes aimed at disrupting the abilities of the Iran-backed group.
China has not formally condemned the Houthis. But according to Reuters, Chinese officials have asked their Iranian counterparts to help rein in attacks on ships in the Red Sea carried out by the group.
Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency first reported on the joint exercise with Russia and China in December. But at that time, Irani did not elaborate on when the drills would take place. The Iranian commander said then that Pakistan, Brazil, Oman, India and South Africa were among the countries invited as observers.
Last year’s iteration – named “Security Bond-2023” – ran for five days and involved live-fire suppression and strike precision . The navies also conducted anti-terrorism and anti-piracy training, including a simulated rescue mission to a hijacked merchant ship
China sent its South Sea Fleet warship, the Nanning, for the drills. A Chinese captain told state broadcaster CCTV at the time that the drills “deepened the practical cooperation between the navies … and further showed the willingness and ability to jointly maintain maritime security”.
Iran’s light frigate Jamaran and the Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov, which is armed with hypersonic missiles, took part in the exercise.
There has not been a formal announcement from either China or Russia on this year’s drill.
Dewey Sim is a reporter for the China desk covering Beijing’s foreign policy. He was previously writing about Singapore and Southeast Asia for the Post’s Asia desk. A Singapore native, Dewey joined the Post in 2019 and is a graduate of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.
- Previous Liz Truss announces new political movement
- Next China’s Fujian aircraft carrier offers another look at advanced catapult