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Russian Maneuver in the Caspian Sea: who is the hypothetical enemy?


By Bahman Aghai Diba

Recently (9-26 September 2011) the Russians and a few other Caspian regional states conducted a military maneuver in the Caspian Sea and its adjacent areas.  Maneuvers by the Russian forces, with or without participation by other Caspian regional states are nothing unusual.  There have been numerous military maneuvers in the Caspian Sea by the massive Russian naval force in the Caspian Sea that are among the most advanced and most equipped naval units of the Russian navy.  However, every maneuver has a hypothetical enemy and the recent maneuver in the Caspian Sea called “Center-2011” had a very interesting “hypothetical enemy”.


The countries that participated in this maneuver were: Russia, Kazakhstan (that has the longest shores in the Caspian Sea), Tajikistan and Kirgizstan.  This was the biggest maneuver of the Russians in the region since the 2002 maneuver which was conducted immediately after the failure of the first Caspian Summit Conference in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) between Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan.  They failed to agree on the legal regime of the Caspian Sea.  In the new maneuver, 12,000 Russian forces participated in the Center-2011 exercise. Some 1,000 Russian servicemen, 10 Russian surface vessels, storm boats and auxiliary ships, as well as some 20 units of military and special-purpose hardware were involved in the drills. (1)

The objective of the maneuver (the hypothetical enemy) was: increasing combat readiness for the situation arising from a Western military attack against Iranian nuclear sites and the possible military retaliation of Iran against the oil field in the region, especially in the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea, where Western and especially American companies are active.  The military sources disclosed that the forces taking part in the exercise were briefed for a two-stage scenario:

Stage One: A naval attack on the Caspian Sea coast coming from the south (Iran).

Stage Two: A large-scale air and ground attack from the south by 70 F-4 and F-5 fighter-bombers, namely, the bulk of Iran’s air force, along with armored divisions, marine battalions and infantry brigades landing on the northern and eastern shores of the Caspian Sea. (2)

During the maneuver, first it was supposed that the Russian naval intelligence units “discover” that US has attacked the nuclear sites of Iran, and then the participating forces dispatch the common fast reaction forces and special operations forces of Central Asia to confront the threat  and then counter the retaliatory actions of Iran in this context.  The military forces were practicing repelling a simulated Iranian reprisal attack against oil platforms in Kazakh Caspian waters, following anticipated American strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.  “It is very sad and disheartening to see Putin's forces preparing to back-up American aggression.” (3)

Caspian Sea States

The news about this military maneuver did not get almost any coverage in the media of Iran. The reason is Russia, as the country which is making so much profits from its relations with the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran ( as a regime that has no respect for the national interests of Iran)  is so concerned about the Western attacks to places near its borders that resorts to such measures. 

The reality is that in the Caspian Sea, the biggest enemy of Iran is Russia. The Russians are proposing and implementing the ways for division of the waters and seabed of the Caspian Sea that is directly against the ideas and interests of the Iran. (4) The Russians have almost created an alliance against Iran out of the four other littoral states of the Caspian Sea and they are misusing the fact that the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran is seriously relaying on Russians due to the confrontation of Iran with the regional and Western countries on the nuclear program of Iran. 


  4. See: National Interests of Iran in the Caspian Sea, article in: Bahman Aghai Diba, Iran and the International law of the Sea and Rivers, Createspace, US, p. 87

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