The largest naval exercise is taking place today in the Caspian Sea. The last time such a large military exercise occurred was during the Soviet era. About ten thousand military men and dozens of battle planes will take part in the exercise together with Air Force and Anti-Missile Defense, Border Guard, EMERCOM, and even customs agents.
As was officially announced, the basic goal of the exercise is to train in breaking channels that can be used by international terrorists and drug dealers in the region. However, the exercise looks more like a demonstration of military power. Special attention is to be paid to the implementation of the army's tasks, such as the firing of missiles, as well as landing operations. It is not common to fight against drug dealers with missles.
We recall that President Putin issued the order for the military exercise right after the end of the Caspian summit in the city of Ashkabad (the capital of Turkmenistan) in April of this year. It was expected that the leaders of five Caspian countries would agree on the issue of the division of the Caspian Sea, but this did not happen.
Russia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan insist on the division of the sea according to the principle “we divide the sea's bottom, not the water.” Iran does not agree, since it would get only 12% of the Caspian seafloor in this case. In addition, Azerbaijan would receive the most attractive oil deposits. Turkmenistan is not happy with the plan either, although it is hard to say what they are unhappy with exactly.
The Americans were also there, of course. Needless to say, the USA thinks that the Caspian region is a region of American interests: there is a lot of oil over there. America has already promised to help Azerbaijan, even militarily, if there is a need for this (regarding Iran, as we can guess).
Tehran was not really enthusiastic about Russia’s initiative to conduct the military exercise in the Caspian Sea. Russia’s presence in the region is surely advantageous, in spite of the fact that Iran increased its own military presence there as well. The Iranian government perceives the exercise as a demonstration of the military force.
Nevertheless, there are no reasons to believe that the military exercise will seriously complicate relations between Russia and Iran: Moscow and Tehran are cooperating rather actively in other areas. At the end of the day, Iranian representatives are participating in the exercise as observers.
One more thing: the exercise must show the level of combat training of the Caspian navy. If it turns out to be low, then it will not be possible to say that Russia’s interests in the Caspian region are guaranteed with a reliable military shield.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969