IRAN and Russia are preparing to hold joint naval exercises in the Caspian Sea for “peace and stability”, says the commander of the Iranian navy.
Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi has been quoted by semi-official news agency Mehr as saying the two countries are planning “war games” that will be implemented in the “near future”. Iran and Russia have held several naval drills in the Caspian Sea, including in 2015 and 2017, with the Iranian commander saying cooperation between both navies had “strengthened in recent years”. He also praised wider Caspian Sea cooperation as a “model for guaranteeing peace, stability and friendship”.
Mehr reported on Sunday the naval commander said: “Tactical, rescue and anti-piracy war games between Iranian and Russian naval forces are being planned and will be implemented in the near future.”
The two countries have close ties, including in Syria where they both back President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s civil war.
Mr Khanzadi Iran’s opposition to the military presence of any country from outside the region in the Caspian Sea, saying: “All countries around the Caspian have the same approach,” Mehr reported.
Russia said last year it was firmly committed to deepening ties with Iran despite a US decision to quit an international nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.
Enclosed by land and borderes by Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, the Caspian Sea is the world’s biggest enclosed body of water.
The sea is rich in offshore oil and gas deposits worth trillions of dollars.
In August Iran and Russia agreed with the three other ex-soviet nations how to divide up the oil and gas resources of the sea, leading the way for more energy exploration.