Russian Navy Announces More Major Fleet Exercises as Drills End with China, Iran

January 21, 2022 5:45 PM
Russian Navy guided-missile destroyer Admiral Tributs in the Indian Ocean. Russian Navy Photo

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The Russian Navy will conduct a series of exercises in the next few months with all of its fleet commands throughout their respective areas of operations, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Thursday.

Russian Navy Chief Admiral Nikolai Evmenov will oversee the effort, which is in accordance with the Russian Armed Forces’ 2022 training plan.

The series of exercises is meant to work out how the Russian Navy and Russian Air Force protect Russian national interests in the world’s oceans, as well as how to counter military threats to Russia from the sea, according to the defense ministry’s news release.

The exercises will cover the waters adjacent to Russian territory, as well as sea areas that are operationally important to Russia. Separate exercises will take place in the Mediterranean, the northeastern part of the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the Okhotsk Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Over 140 warships and support vessels along with 60 aircraft and a total of 10,000 personnel are slated to participate in the exercises, the release said.

Six Russian Navy amphibious ships from the Baltic and Northern Fleets are already heading towards the Mediterranean to link up with a Russian Pacific Fleet task group that is currently in Iran conducting a trilateral naval exercise with Iran and China.

Reports indicate the two groups of ships recently transited the English Channel, with landing ship tanks RFS Olenegorskiy Gornyak (012) and RFS Georgiy Pobedonosets (016) and landing ship RFS Pyotr Morgunov (117) from the Northern Fleet forming one group and landing ship tanks RFS Korolev (130), RFS Minsk (127), and RFS Kaliningrad (102) from the Baltic Fleet forming another group. The six ships were heading to the Mediterranean to join the Pacific Fleet ships for a Russian Navy inter-naval exercise, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a Thursday news release.

Other Russian Navy ships were headed to the North Sea, though the news release did not provide any additional details. Naval ships from Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom have been monitoring the passage of the two Russian groups.

Guided-missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov. Russian Navy Photo

The Russian Pacific Fleet task group includes cruiser RFS Varyag (011), destroyer Admiral Tributs (564) and replenishment ship Boris Butoma. The ships on Friday completed an exercise in the Gulf of Oman with naval forces from Iran and China. Both Russian and Chinese news releases about the exercise said the drills began on Jan. 18, but Iran’s official spokesperson for the exercise, Rear-Admiral Mostafa Taj al-Dini, told Iranian media on Thursday that the exercise would begin Friday. It’s likely that the Russian and Chinese news releases reflect the drills beginning from the moment their ships first entered Iranian waters to dock for the planning phase.

Russia has called the exercise CHIRU-2022, while Iran’s name for the exercise was Maritime Security Belt 2022.

China’s participation includes destroyer Urumqi (118) and replenishment ship Taihu (889), along with embarked helicopters and 40 People’s Liberation Army Navy Marines of the 39th Escort Task Force, which is carrying out anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden. Frigate Yantai (538) is the remaining ship in the Chinese task force, but it did not take part in the exercise.

“The exercise aims to deepen practical cooperation among the navies of the three countries, demonstrate the goodwill and capability of the three countries to jointly safeguard maritime security and actively build a ‘maritime community with a shared future,’ and inject positive energy into regional peace and stability,” the Chinese Ministry of Defense said in a news release.

A total of 14 ships from the three countries took part in the exercise, Russia’s Defence Ministry said in a release. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy also took part in the exercise alongside the Iranian Navy. A full list of Iranian warships participating has not been disclosed, but Iran Press News Agency reports show frigates IRIS Dena (75) and IRIS Jamaran (76), corvette IRIS Naghdi (82), fast attack craft IRIS Tabarzin (P232) tenders IRIS Bahregan (1406) and IRIS Ganaveh (1408), and replenishment ship IRIS Shahid Nazeri taking part in the exercise. The exercise included joint firings, combined maneuvers, search and rescue drills and a hostage rescue exercise in which Iranian Army and IRGC special forces, Russian special forces and PLAN Marines stormed two hijacked merchant ships and freed the crews from pirates.

The PLAN 39th Escort Task Force left its home base in Qingdao, Shandong Province on Sept. 26, 2021 and is scheduled to be relieved soon by the 40th PLAN Escort Task Force, which includes destroyer Hohhot (161), frigate Yueyang (575) and replenishment ship Luomahu (907). The 40th PLAN Escort Task Force left its homeport of Zhanjiang, Guangdong on Jan. 15.

Russia’s Defence Ministry also announced in a Thursday news release that submarine RFS Volkhov (B-603) conducted a successful submerged firing of a 3M14K Calibre (SS-N-30A) cruise missile from the Sea of Japan against a coastal target over 1000 kilometers away in the Surkum tactical field located in Khabarovsk territory.

The Harry S. Truman Strike Carrier Group will be participating in a NATO drill, scheduled to end in early February. The exercise will take place in the Mediterranean Sea, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters Friday.

The exercise, Neptune Strike 22 was planned in 2020 and is not designed in response to the Russian movement toward Ukraine, Kirby said. Several NATO allies will be involved in the exercise, although he would not specify which ones.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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