Iran and Russia held joint naval exercises in the Caspian Sea on Tuesday as part of a visit by two Russian Buyan-class corvettes to the region, the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency reported.
Russian warships Volgodonsk and Makhachkala berthed in Anzali Port on August 9 for a three-day stay.
Commander of Iran’s fleet of warships in the Northern Gilan province Admiral Ahmad Reza Baqeri said that Iranian destroyer Damavand and missile-launching warships Joshan and Peika will sail with the Russian ships in the drill along with 200 other Iranian naval forces.
The Russian fleet was expected to head for Azerbaijan after the end of the exercises.
According to Fars, last October Russian ships docked in northern Iran as part of a process to boost ties between the two countries.
Ian’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was scheduled to travel to Moscow next week in the latest in a series of visits to the Russian capital by top regime officials.
Russia and the Islamic Republic have traditionally been strong trading partners, particularly in the fields of military hardware and gas and oil exports, but trade dwindled as Russia implemented international sanctions from 2010 onward.
Two weeks ago, Quds Force head Qassem Soleimani visited Russia for high-level talks, despite being subject to an international travel ban and asset freeze by the United Nations since 2007.
Soleimani met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, reportedly to discuss Moscow’s planned supply of advanced air defense missiles to the Islamic Republic after it froze shipments of the S-300 missile system in 2010 due to UN sanctions on Iran.
Russia has recently maneuvered to also improve ties with Iran’s regional foe, Saudi Arabia.
Both Russia and Iran are allies of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been attempting to quash a brutal insurgency for nearly four years.
On Tuesday Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir arrived in Moscow for talks about resolving the Syrian conflict. While Russia sees Assad as playing a role in the future of Syria, the Saudis want him out of the picture.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are also backing opposing sides in the ongoing civil war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition targeting Iran-allied Shiite rebels in neighboring Yemen, not far from Abha.