- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2022

Russia and China are sending warships to the northern part of the Indian Ocean to take part in a series of naval exercises alongside Iran as tensions in the region continue to mount.

Iranian marine and airborne units and the separate Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps navy will take part in the drills, dubbed “Naval Security Belt Combined War Game 2022,” along with naval forces from Russia and China, according to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.

The drill will cover an area of 17,000 square kilometers — about 10,500 square miles — and will be the third such joining exercise involving Iran, Russia and China, Rear Adm. Mostafa Tajeddini of the Iranian navy said.

“The purpose of holding the war game is to strengthen security and its fundamentals in the region, promote multilateral cooperation among the three countries, display the three countries’ goodwill and capability to jointly support world peace and maritime security and create a maritime community with a common future,” the Iranian admiral said, according to Tasnim.

The U.S. is at strategic dispute with all three participants: It considers China as its primary “pacing challenge” in the future, Russia has massed thousands of troops along its border with Ukraine and Iran is believed to be behind a number of drone attacks that have targeted U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.

Activities during the exercise will include tactical maneuvering, saving hijacked vessels, and day and night weapons training, Iranian officials said.

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According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, Moscow is providing a missile cruiser, an anti-submarine ship and a sea tanker to the exercise. 

“In addition, Russian ships will replenish food, water and fuel supplies,” ministry officials said.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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