Moscow is proposing a diametrically opposed vision to Western sanctions, threats and economic war, one that is drawing it ever closer to Tehran
Russia is meticulously advancing Eurasian chessboard moves that should be observed in conjunction, as Moscow proposes to the Global South an approach diametrically opposed to Western sanctions, threats and economic war. Here are three recent examples.
Ten days ago, via a document officially approved by the United Nations, the Russian Foreign Ministry advanced a new concept of collective security for the Persian Gulf.
Moscow stresses that "practical work on launching the process of creating a security system in the Persian Gulf" should start with "bilateral and multilateral consultations between interested parties, including countries both within the region and outside of it," as well as organizations such as the UN Security Council, League of Arab States, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Gulf Cooperation Council.
The next step should be an international conference on security and cooperation in the Persian Gulf, followed by the establishment of a dedicated organization certainly not something resembling the incompetent Arab League.
The Russian initiative should be interpreted as a sort of counterpart of, and mostly a complement to, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is finally blossoming as a security, economic and political body. The inevitable conclusion is that major SCO stakeholders Russia, China, India, Pakistan and, in the near future, Iran and Turkey will be major influencers on regional stability.
The Pentagon will not be amused.Drill, baby, drill
When the commander of the Iranian Navy, Hossein Khanzadi, recently visited St Petersburg for the celebration of Russia's Navy Day, the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces and the Russian Defense Ministry signed an unprecedented memorandum of understanding.
Khanzadi was keen to stress the memorandum "may be considered a turning point in relations of Tehran and Moscow along the defense trajectory."
A direct upshot is that Moscow and Tehran, before March 2020, will enact a joint naval exercise in of all places the Strait of Hormuz. As Khanzadi told the IRNA news agency: "The exercise may be held in the northern part of the Indian Ocean, which flows into the Gulf of Oman, the Strait of Hormuz and also the Persian Gulf."
The US Navy, which plans an "international coalition" to ensure "freedom of navigation" in the Strait of Hormuz something Iran has always historically guaranteed won't be amused. Neither will Britain, which is pushing for a European-led coalition even as Brexit looms.
Khanzadi also noted that Tehran and Moscow are deeply involved in how to strengthen defense cooperation in the Caspian Sea. Joint drills already took place in the Caspian in the past, but never in the Persian Gulf.Exercise together
Russia's Eastern Military District will be part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) anti-terrorist exercise in Thailand and China early next month. According to the Eastern Military District, the training is part of "preparations for a practical phase of an ASEAN anti-terrorist exercise in China." This means, among other things, that Russian troops will be using Chinese military hardware.
Exercises include joint tactical groups attempting to free hostages from inside official buildings; search for and disposal of explosives; and indoor and outdoor radiation, chemical and biological reconnaissance.