New Wave of Militarization in the Caspian

On March 17, the Iranian navy launched a new Jamaran-2 destroyer in the Caspian Sea. The Iranian establishment, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Hassan Firuzabadi, attended the ceremony. This destroyer was developed and constructed domestically by Iranian experts and specialists. Earlier, a Jamaran-1 destroyer was launched in the Persian Gulf. The 1,420-ton destroyer, which is part of the 16th fleet of Iranian warships, is equipped with modern radars and electronic warfare capabilities. The Jamaran-2 has a top speed of up to 30 knots and a helipad. The destroyer features highly advanced anti-aircraft, anti-surface and anti-subsurface systems. The vessel has also been equipped with torpedoes and naval cannons (Trend, March 17). Conspicuously, the Iranian destroyer was launched exactly on the eve of the start of bilateral talks between Azerbaijan and Russia on the Caspian Sea delimitation issues. On March 18, Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov met with Igor Bratchikov, the special envoy of the Russian foreign ministry. The sides discussed issues of mutual cooperation in the Caspian, including the drafting of a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea and many others (Zerkalo, March 18).

The new wave of naval strengthening launched a few years ago, has forced other Caspian littoral states to build up their fleets in response. On January 30 of this year, the Russian Ministry of Defense ordered the construction of three new Buyan-class corvettes to be used in the Caspian. The first ship will be launched this year, while two others will be completed by 2014. Retired Rear Admiral Vladimir Zakharov stressed that the new ships significantly increase the influence of Russia’s fleet over the Caspian region. “We should not forget unstable Iran. Three ships are a minimum that we need to use in the region. At a maximum the Caspian fleet would need seven such ships,” he concluded (, January 30). In July of 2012, Russia launched the new military ship “Dagestan,” equipped with SS-N-27 “Sizzler” missiles (RIA Novosti, March 18). This is the first military ship in Russia equipped with this type of missile. With the launching of the Dagestan, the Russian Caspian fleet has increased its number of Gepard-class frigates to two (the first one is the “Tatarstan”).

Full article: New Wave of Militarization in the Caspian (The Jamestown Foundation)

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