Russian-Iranian navies plan to hold joint war games in the northern Indian Ocean, including the Strait of Hormuz, by the end of this year. The joint Russian-Iranian naval manoeuvres are more important politically than militarily and may carry a definite message to the United States and its allies. Of course, military cooperation between Iran and Russia is not new and has been exercised between the two countries in the past. Part of this cooperation is in the field of arms trade between the two sides, which has a long history, and part of it is related to bilateral military cooperation forged in the past at regional events such as the Syrian case as well as in joint manoeuvres.
Previously, the Iranian and Russian navies had conducted joint war games in the Caspian Sea. In the current context, given the tension creating policies of the US government in the Persian Gulf region as well as Western-led US and British plans to build military coalitions in the region, the issue of Iran-Russia military cooperation in the context of new joint manoeuvres has again been raised. Accordingly, the first war game is to take place in the Oman Sea and the Indian Ocean and the second manoeuvre in the Persian Gulf.
As a result, the action by Tehran and Moscow can be discussed both in the context of the two countries’ long-standing partnerships and in the framework of the new developments that have taken place in the region. Therefore, Iran-Russia cooperation, especially in the Persian Gulf, is a response to Western countries’ plan to build a maritime coalition in the region; on the one hand, Iran sends a message to the West that it has many different options for coalition in the Persian Gulf region; and on the other the Russians are sending the message to Western nations that if they want to increase the level of tension in the region, they are also able to play a role in the Persian Gulf.
It should be kept in mind that Iran-Russia cooperation will undoubtedly disrupt the equations in the Persian Gulf as so far the Persian Gulf projects have been carried out either by Western countries such as the United States, Britain and their partners, or alliances and coalitions have been formed with the participation of Western actors and some southern Persian Gulf states.
Given that the coalitions, alliances and mechanisms that have existed to date in the region have often been ineffective and have failed to provide security in the region, this will create a new atmosphere for cooperation between Russia and Iran. In particular, the Russians, in a document published on the Persian Gulf security issues, indicated that they were not merely thinking of a military presence in the region but were seeking to create mechanisms to secure the region. The difference that the Russian proposal for the Persian Gulf has with other plans is that Russia emphasizes endogenous security and this is in contrast to the plans announced by Western countries. That is, the Western countries in the plans they put forward emphasized their presence in the actions and tried to somehow make the security of the regional countries dependent on their military presence and influence in the region. Russia, meanwhile, insists on its plan that the security of the Persian Gulf region must be secured by the countries of the region themselves. In this respect, Russia’s goals are quite different from those of Western countries, and the Russians are pursuing another idea.
Finally, it should be noted that military cooperation between Iran and Russia in the Persian Gulf is shaping a new chapter in relations between the two countries that will affect not only bilateral relations between Tehran and Moscow but also the existing equations in the Persian Gulf region and overshadows many issues. Of course, care and vigilance about the consequences of the Russian dream of accessing the warm waters of the Persian Gulf should not be neglected.