Two Russian warships have docked in northern Iran “carrying a message of ‘peace and friendship,’” and preparing for naval training exercises with the Islamic Republic, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
The vessels docked in Iran’s Anzali port Sunday in anticipation of “joint naval exercises during the three-day stay,” according to a Persian-language report in Iran’s state-controlled Fars News Agency. The Free Beacon also cited Persian-language reports translated by the CIA’s Open Source Center.
“The [Russian] warships, Volgodonsk and Makhachkala docked in Anzali Port [near the Caspian Sea], in the fourth naval zone, on the afternoon of 9 August,” the Fars report said.
The Russian fleet commander is set to hold meetings with “local political and military officials” in Iran’s northern provinces, according to Fars. The sailors were “welcomed by Iranian naval commanders and staff,” the report said.
Russia’s ambassador to Tehran, Levan Jagarian, reportedly attended the docking ceremony and called for “for boosting mutual ties between the two countries in various fields.” The two nations went on to say that among the priorities of the visit is “expanding bilateral economic, political, and military cooperation.”
The development comes just weeks after Iran and global powers came to a nuclear agreement providing Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief in return for slight restrictions on the country’s nuclear program.
Last week, a senior Iranian naval commander warned the United States against ever taking military action on Iranian interests, claiming that the response would be “unpredictably strong.”
“The western media are mocking at the U.S. for speaking of ‘on the table options (against Iran)’ because the U.S. always utters some words without the ability to materialize them,” Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Naval Commander Ali Fadavi was quoted saying in a Fars report last week.
Iran is “ready to give such a powerful response to the slightest move of the U.S. that it won’t be able to make any other moves,” Fadavi reportedly said.
Russia and Iran have become allies in recent years, with delegations from each country regularly visiting the other to sign arms deals. The two nations agreed to begin building several new nuclear power plants earlier this year, and Russia has offered to sell Iran an Antey-2500 anti-ballistic air defense system that offers enhanced combat capabilities to help prevent attacks by Western powers.
A Russian fleet also docked in northern Iran in October.