Amid rising US pressure, Iran and Russia appear to be gearing toward forging closer military and defense ties. Last week, the commander of the regular Iranian navy announced plans for an Iranian-Russian joint military exercise in the Persian Gulf. Particularly given the recent speculations about differences arising between Tehran and Moscow in Syria, the announcement by Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi seemed to serve as a signal that bilateral ties are vital and unbreakable.
It is not the first time Russia and Iran are to conduct such exercises. The Caspian Sea was the stage of similar war games in 2015 and 2017. Of note, Russia has been holding such maneuvers with China and Pakistan as well. But what makes the new Iran-Russia exercise stand out is the timing and the latest developments preceding it.