Iran’s armed forces will hold a joint, four-day naval exercise with Russia and China in the northern part of the Indian Ocean, a spokesman said Wednesday.
The drill, which is to start on Saturday, will be the first such trilateral exercise as Tehran seeks to boost military cooperation with Beijing and Moscow amid unprecedented economic sanctions from Washington. Visits to Iran by Russian and Chinese naval representatives have also stepped up in recent years.
Iranian military spokesman Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi said the joint maneuvers, which are aimed at promoting regional security, will extend as far as the Sea of Oman. The drill is seen as a response to recent U.S. maneuvers with its regional ally Saudi Arabia, in which China also participated.
In the wake of recent escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf, including attacks on oil vessels and a missile-and-drone assault on the Saudi oil industry, the U.S. has sent a number of American troops to the region and additional missile defense systems to Saudi Arabia.
In 2017, Iran conducted a joint naval exercise with China near the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, a passageway for nearly a third of all oil traded by sea.