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Indian, Russian navies begin drills in Bay of Bengal amid emerging security challenges

DEFENCE-ENG-05-09-2020-India

Indian and Russian warships began a two-day drill in the Bay of Bengal on Friday to bolster their interoperability amidst emerging security challenges.

Titled "Indra Navy", the scope of the exercises on Friday and Saturday (4-5 September) includes diverse activities across the spectrum of maritime operations.

The exercises involve surface and anti-aircraft drills, firing exercises, helicopter operations, and seamanship evolutions, said a spokesman for the Indian Navy.

​India’s guided missile destroyer Ranvjiay, frigate Sahyadri, and fleet tanker Shakti, along with their integrated helicopters are participating in the drills. Meanwhile, Russian Navy destroyer the Admiral Vinogradov and the Admiral Tributs along with fleet tanker the Boris Butoma of the Pacific Fleet have joined the exercise.

In July, the Indian Navy carried out a military exercise with a US Navy carrier strike group led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz off the coast of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The USS Nimitz is the world's largest warship.

New Delhi, however, withdrew from the Kavkaz-2020 strategic command post exercise slated to be held in Astrakhan in southern Russia from 15-26 September.

The Indian Defence Ministry stated that it decided to withdraw from the joint exercises in view of “pandemic and consequent difficulties in exercise, including arrangements of logistics”.

China, Pakistan, and Turkey, as well as member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), are set to participate in the Kavkaz-2020 military exercises.

Media reports, however, indicated that India’s decision was prompted by the participation of China and Pakistan in the drills.

New Delhi and Beijing are still negotiating on a de-escalation of the persisting border tension in the Ladakh region, after a bloody face-off between their armies on the intervening night of 15 and 16 June, in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the Galvan Valley. Border tensions are also prevailing between Indian and Pakistan.