China-Russia-Iran naval drill announcement ‘shows support for Tehran’

·3-min read

Russia has said it will hold joint maritime exercises with China and Iran in the coming months, in an announcement timed to show support from Moscow and Beijing to Tehran in its confrontations with Washington, an analyst said.

Russia’s ambassador to Tehran, Levan Dzhagaryan, said the drills would be held in the Persian Gulf in late 2021 or early 2022.

“The annual joint naval exercises CHIRU will be held in the Persian Gulf region,” Dzhagaryan was quoted by Russian Sputnik news agency as saying. “Russian, Iranian and Chinese warships are taking part in it. The main aim is to practise actions on ensuring international shipping safety and combating sea pirates.”

Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.

Sun Qi, an international relations specialist at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the China-Russia-Iran exercise “demonstrates support for Iran in international affairs”.

“The announcement of the exercise by the three nations at this sensitive moment shows support by China and Russia to Iran, under the guise of ensuring international shipping safety and combating piracy,” Sun said.

Russia’s announcement came after the Chinese and Russian armies completed a week-long exercise in northwestern China, focusing on counterterrorism operations but also boosting the interoperability of their militaries.

In that drill, 10,000 troops from the Chinese army’s Western Theatre Command and Russia’s Eastern Military District tested their newest weapons. It was the first time Russian troops had used armoured assault vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles and other main battle equipment provided by the Chinese military.

The drill was viewed as China and Russia preparing for a worsening security situation in Afghanistan. Beijing is worried about the possibility of Afghan turmoil spilling across the border into its sensitive Xinjiang region.

China, Russia and Iran have also offered support to each other at a time when all three have been subject to sanctions from Washington. In a telephone conversation last week with Ebrahim Raisi, his Iranian counterpart, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China would support Iran’s “legitimate demands” in negotiations over its nuclear programme.

Xi said Beijing was willing to enhance coordination with Tehran “on regional affairs to safeguard common interests and promote regional security and stability”.

As the Taliban takes over Afghanistan following its advance across the war-torn nation since the announcement of the withdrawal of American troops, China, Russia and Iran have blamed Washington for creating chaos in the region. Iran has also claimed it is on a path towards full membership of the China-led security group the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

This month, the US imposed sanctions on an Omani businessman and companies over involvement in oil smuggling that supports Iran, while talks to revive an international nuclear deal for Iran have stalled after Raisi entered office.

China-Iran deal a ‘momentous’ shift as US ties sour, says ex-envoy

Washington has said it seeks a return to the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement, which led to the removal of sanctions on Iran in exchange for the country cutting back its nuclear programme. The Donald Trump administration withdrew from the agreement in 2018, and imposed sanctions on Tehran.

Raisi has rallied support for those sanctions to be removed. On Sunday, he called on Japan to release the Islamic nation’s funds that were frozen in Japan because of the US sanctions.

More from South China Morning Post:

This article China-Russia-Iran naval drill announcement ‘shows support for Tehran’ first appeared on South China Morning Post

For the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting