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Iranian and Russian naval forces on Tuesday staged a series of war drills in the waters near northern Iran, in another joint show of force meant to display the two nations’ control of nearby waterways.
An Iranian destroyer and team of Russian warships staged a series of war drills and engaged in joint training exercises, according to reports in Iran’s state-controlled press.
Two Russian warships docked over the weekend in Iran’s northern Anzali port in anticipation of the wargames.
The military exercises come just weeks after Iran and global powers signed a nuclear accord that will provide Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief and lift restrictions on the country’s ballistic missile program.
At least 200 Iranian naval forces also will participate in the war drills, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.
Iranian Admiral Ahmad Reza Baqeri, the commander of Iran’s war fleet, disclosed that an Iranian destroyer and several “missile-launching warships” will participate in the drills with the Russian fleet.
The war games are a sign of the increased military ties between Russian and Iran, which have signed multiple arms agreements in recent months. Russia also has agreed to aid in the construction of new nuclear reactors in Iran.
The Russian fleet docked in Iran’s port “carrying a message of ‘peace and friendship,’” according to Iranian officials quoted by Fars. The fleet was “welcomed by Iranian naval commanders and staff.”
A ceremony was held in recent days to celebrate the arrival of the Russian warfleet, with Russian Captain Kirill Taranenko stating that military relations between the two countries are set to grow.
In addition to the war drills, Russian and Iranian military officials held a series of meetings.
“The maritime relations between Russia and Iran will be expanded and we will go ahead with our official and unofficial visits to Iran,” Taranenko was quoted as saying.
“Iranian forces will most likely pay a visit to Russia in mid-October,” the Russian military leader added.
Levan Jagarian, Russia’s ambassador to Tehran, reportedly attended the docking ceremony and called for “for boosting mutual ties between the two countries in various fields,” according to the report.
The two nations went on to say that “expanding bilateral economic, political, and military cooperation is among the priorities of the visit.”
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, told the Washington Free Beacon on Monday that the Obama administration is ignoring the Russian-Iranian military buildup.
“We’re witnessing a new great game, and Obama is so self-centered he keeps playing solitaire,” Rubin said at the time. “Obama simply doesn’t understand that the world is full of dictators who seek to checkmate America. What he sees as compromise; they see as weakness to exploit.”
Referring to a visit last week to Russia by IRGC leader Qassem Soleimani, who is responsible for the deaths of Americans, Rubin said it is clear that Moscow and Tehran aim to build a tight military alliance.
“Visiting Russia to talk arms purchases and now this naval visit, it’s clear that Putin and Khamenei will waste no time to really develop their military cooperation,” he said.