China, Russia and Iran hold joint naval drills in Gulf of Oman, amid tension with US
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
BEIJING/MOSCOW (Worthy News) – U.S. rivals China, Russia, and Iran are conducting joint naval drills in the Gulf of Oman this week off the southern coast of Iran, China’s Defense Ministry announced, as East-West tensions rise.
Other unnamed countries will participate in the “Security Bond-2023” military exercises China said would “inject positive energy into regional peace and stability.”
Iran, Pakistan, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates each have a coastline that touches the gulf at the mouth of the strategic Persian Gulf.
“This exercise will help deepen practical cooperation between the participating countries’ navies … and inject positive energy into regional peace and stability,” the Chinese ministry statement added.
In 2021, U.S. intelligence learned that China was building a suspected military facility at a port in the United Arab Emirates.
The U.S. reportedly warned at the time that the Emirati government that the new construction could threaten ties with America, which led to a halt in the plans.
This week’s joint exercise is the third of its kind, following similar drills involving the Chinese, Iranian, and Russian navies in 2019 and 2022, the Chinese Defense Ministry said.
The Chinese navy sent a guided-missile destroyer, the Nanning, to participate, sources familiar with the exercises said.
This week’s drills come amid mounting East-West military tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s attempt to extend military cooperation with U.S. rivals.
The drills also come as a race is underway between the U.S. and Russia to secure the debris of a drone that crashed into the Black Sea after a Russian fighter jet dumped fuel on the drone, U.S. officials said.
The fighter jet allegedly clipped the drone’s propeller while traveling in international airspace, causing the crash.
Russian officials confirmed Wednesday that operations were underway to collect the debris of the downed U.S. drone, though Moscow denied responsibility for the incident.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the incident was part of a “pattern of aggressive, risky, and unsafe actions by Russian pilots in international airspace.”
He spoke after talking to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, on Wednesday for the first time in five months.
“It’s important that great powers be models of transparency and communication, and the United States will continue to fly and to operate wherever international law allows,” Austin told reporters in Washington.
Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said in televised remarks the drone incident was “another confirmation” of direct U.S. involvement in the Ukraine conflict.
Patrushev, a confidant of President Vladimir Putin, also said Russia would search for the drone’s debris but added, “I don’t know if we can recover them or not, but we will certainly have to do that.”
U.S. officials said Russia dispatched ships to recover the wreckage, likely submerged 4,000 to 5,000 feet (1,200 to 1,500 meters) deep.
The U.S. has no vessels in the Black Sea as Turkey closed the Bosphorus Strait to warships last year, except for those returning to their home port.
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