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Russia and China Join Iranian Naval Drills in Gulf of Oman

PLA Navy frigate arrives at Chabahar for the joint Iranian-Russian-Chinese drill (Tasnim / CC BY SA 4.0)
PLA Navy frigate arrives at Chabahar for the joint Iranian-Russian-Chinese drill (Tasnim / CC BY SA 4.0)

Published Mar 16, 2023 7:37 PM by The Maritime Executive

Russia and China have launched joint naval drills with Iran in the Gulf of Oman this week, demonstrating their willingness to collaborate on operations at sea. It is the third naval exercise between the three nations since 2019 and the second Russian-Chinese naval exercise in two months. 

The drill, called "Security Belt 2023", runs Wednesday through Saturday in waters off the port of Chabahar. Thursday and Friday will involve events at sea, including a search and rescue exercise and a gunnery exercise. 

The Iranian Navy frigates Sakhand and Jamaran are involved in the maneuvers, as well as the 1964-built corvette Bayandor. Russia has dispatched the frigate Admiral Gorshkov, and China has sent the destroyer Nanning. Both are modern multirole surface combatants, and Gorshkov carries Russia's new hypersonic antiship missile, the Zircon. 

Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov off Chabahar (Tasnim News / Hossein Zohrevand / CC BY SA 4.0)

Chinese state-owned outlet Global Times emphasized that the exercise "is not aimed at any third party."

All three nations have tense relationships with the United States, and all are broadly aligned with Russia regarding the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Iran has supplied Russian forces with military drones, which have been used repeatedly to attack the Ukrainian power grid. China's involvement has been limited to diplomatic support and provision of nonlethal aid, according to the U.S. government, but the White House has accused Beijing of considering plans to supply arms directly to Moscow.