‘Security Bond-2023’ drills in Gulf of Oman aim to ‘inject positive energy’ into region, Beijing says
Russia, China and Iran are holding a five-day maritime exercise aimed at strengthening their naval security, the Beijing Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday.
The ministry said the “Security Bond-2023” tri-nation wargames in the Gulf of Oman will take place from March 15-19 and several unspecified countries will also join them.
“This exercise will help deepen practical cooperation between the navies of participating nations, further demonstrate the willingness and ability to jointly maintain maritime security,” the ministry said, adding that it “injecting positive energy into regional peace and stability”.
China’s missile destroyer Nanning will take part, the ministry said, noting that “Security Bond-2023” will build on drills held by China, Russia and Iran in 2019 and 2022.
In late 2019, similar tri-nation drills were held in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, with Iranian military spokesman Abolfazl Shekarchi saying the aim was to fight terrorism and piracy. In 2022, the “security bond” maneuvers encompassed the northern part of the Indian Ocean and involved the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the elite branch of Tehran’s military.
Earlier this week, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said cooperation between Moscow and Beijing had “reached a whole new level” with the partnership serving as “One of the main deterrents against aggressive activities by the United States and its henchmen in the Asia-Pacific region.”
At the end of February, China conducted another naval exercise with Russia, as well as with South Africa. While Pretoria called it a way to increase coordination between the three countries, Western media called the move a “controversial” given the conflict in Ukraine.
The United States also weighed in, with White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre saying in January that Washington “has concerns about any country… exercising with Russia” as Moscow continues its military campaign in Ukraine.
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