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Russia, China and Iran launch joint naval exercise

Warships from the three countries will run drills to ensure maritime security

Ships of the Russian, Chinese and Iranian navies are holding a joint exercise in the Arabian Sea this week, staging from the port of Chah Bahar in the Gulf of Oman.

The wargames, dubbed “Maritime Security Belt,” are scheduled to run between March 12 and March 15 and involve vessels and aircraft from the three countries. Envoys from the militaries of Azerbaijan, India, Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan and South Africa are in attendance as observers.

“The practical part of the exercise will take place in the waters of the Arabian Sea, specifically the Gulf of Oman,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Monday. “The main purpose of the maneuvers is to ensure the safety of maritime economic activities.”

Two ships of the Pacific Fleet, the Slava-class guided missile cruiser Varyag and the Udaloy-class frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov, make up the Russian contingent at the exercise.

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According to the Chinese Defense Ministry, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has dispatched the guided-missile destroyer Urumqi, the guided-missile frigate Linyi, and the supply ship Dongpinghu.

The Iranian navy is contributing several helicopters and a dozen vessels of various sizes.

“Maritime Security Belt” began in 2019 as a joint venture between Moscow, Beijing and Tehran. China missed the 2021 drills, but has participated in every exercise since.

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During the 2023 maneuvers, the three navies practiced sailing in formation together, conducted daytime and night-time artillery tests, and simulated freeing hostages from a ship taken by pirates and assisting a ship in distress.

The exercise area is near the entrance to the Persian Gulf, where much of the world’s oil deliveries originate from. On the other side of the Arabian Peninsula, off the coast of Yemen, the US and its allies have deployed multiple warships in an effort to stop the Houthis from interdicting Israeli-related maritime trade. Not only have they been unsuccessful, but the Houthis have since added British and American merchant vessels to their list of targets.


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