Iran and Russia to hold joint naval exercise in Gulf

Iran and Russia will carry out a joint military training exercise in the Gulf later this year, according to an Iranian naval commander.

Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi announced the joint exercise in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf when he confirmed that Iran and Russia had signed their first-ever memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding inter-military affairs last week during his visit to Moscow.

Khanzadi said the new MOU was “a turning point in relations of Tehran in Moscow,” adding that: “When we talk about the Indian Ocean, perhaps the most significant part of the area is the northern Indian Ocean, which flows into the Gulf of Oman, the Strait of Hormuz and also the Persian Gulf.”

Russia and Iran conducted joint naval exercises in the Caspian Sea in 2015 and 2017. According to the National Interest, the first focused on Iranian surface vessel combat-preparedness exercises, while the 2017 exercise encompassed a broad swathe of activities from commando tactics to shore-to-sea missile drills.

Khanzadi dismissed the UK’s decision to join a US-led maritime coalition in the Persian Gulf as: “A big bluff and a deceitful act that tries to make this region look unsafe, even though it is secure”. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called for regional dialogue and non-aggression pacts to reduce tension in the Gulf, which is also supported by Russia.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz reportedly told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee during a closed session that Israel was assisting the US and British naval mission in the Gulf with intelligence and other unspecified support. Katz added that it is in Israel’s interest to stop Iranian entrenchment in the region and strengthen Israel’s relationship with Gulf countries.

The new UK Ambassador to Israel, Neil Wigan, will formally present his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin today. Earlier this week Wigan tweeted that a Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon landed in Israel as part of a training exercise. “The first RAF fighter to land there since 1948. Reflects enduring RAF and IAF [Israel Air Force] friendship.”

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