TEHRAN, Iran — The Iranian and Russian militaries have kicked off a joint naval drill in the Indian Ocean aimed at boosting security of maritime trade in the region, Iran’s state TV reported on Tuesday.
The TV said units from Iran’s Navy and the powerful Revolutionary Guard’s maritime force will take part in the exercise dubbed “Iran-Russia Maritime Security Belt 2021” in the northern part of the Indian Ocean, spanning a stretch of about a 17,000 kilometers, or 10,600 miles.
According to Iranian Adm. Gholamreza Tahani, the drill spokesman, a Russian destroyer, logistics ship and a helicopter were to participate in the drill. This is the second such joint Russia-Iran exercise since 2019, when the two nations plus China held a four-day exercise.
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.
Iranian Navy chief Adm. Hossein Khanzadi said the Indian and Chinese navies will also join the exercise, state-run IRNA news agency reported Tuesday.
In the last few months, Iran has stepped up military drills as the country tries to pressure President Joe Biden over the nuclear accord, which he has said America could reenter.
Last Thursday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard conducted a ground forces drill near the border with Iraq in which drones, helicopters and military tanks were used.
Former President Donald Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, Under the accord, Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
When the Trump administration subsequently imposed severe sanctions on Tehran, Iran gradually and publicly abandoned the deal’s limits on its nuclear development.