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Indian Navy to hold mega exercise with Russia near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

India pulled out of the Kavkaz military exercise in Russia owing to ongoing tensions with China, but the navies of the two countries would now hold joint manoeuvres near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on September 4-5, coinciding with defence minister Rajnath Singh’s Moscow visit.

While Singh was in Moscow in June to participate in the 75th Victory Day celebrations, his September 3-5 visit will focus on SCO meet, besides bilateral consultations with the hosts amid fresh tensions along the LAC. Singh and his Russian counterpart are expected to discuss steps to widen defence partnership including supplies at critical times.

INDRA NAVY-2020, earlier planned in Vladivostok has been postponed due to Covid-19 pandemic situation. Russian Navy has instead proposed conducting a “non-contact, at sea only” Passage Exercise (PASSEX) to maintain the continuity of engagements between the two Navies, ET has reliably learnt.

Russian Navy ships Admiral Vinogradov (Destroyer), Admiral Tributs (Destroyer) and Boris Butoma (Tanker) with integral helicopters will be visiting the port of Hambantota (Sri Lanka) from August 31 to September 3, before proceeding to Russia, persons familiar with this development informed.

INDRA NAVY-2020 is planned as PASSEX on September 4-5, during the passage of Russian Navy ships from Hambantota to Malacca Straits in the Bay of Bengal. Indian Navy will deploy ships Ranvijay (Destroyer), Sahyadri (Frigate), Kiltan (Corvette) and Shakti (Tanker) with integrated Helicopters. As part of INDRA NAVY-2020, maritime operations such as Flying, Gun Firing on Surface and Aerial Targets, Tracking Exercises and Replenishment at Sea Approaches (RASAPS) are planned, ET has learnt.

India-Russia (INDRA) Exercises between the Army, Navy and Air Force of the two countries have been held since 2005. Joint Tri-Services Exercises ‘INDRA’ are also being held once in two years since 2017. The last INDRA Tri-Services Exercise was held in India in December 2019.

“INDRA NAVY-2020 will once again showcase the level of friendship, trust and interoperability between Indian Navy and the Russian Navy,” a source said.

India is keen to develop a partnership with Russia in the Indo-Pacific region based on its principle of inclusive Indo-Pacific construct. Russia on its part wants to steadily enhance its presence in the region spanning Lisbon to Jakarta and seeks Indian presence in its Far-East as Indo-Pacific partnership.

Interestingly, Indo-Russian exercise could happen almost in the same area where the Malabar exercise involving India, the United States of America and Japan and will take place later this year. Australia too could be invited for the exercise.

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