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20 Feb, 2024 09:37

Russian warships train in India alongside vessels from West and Iran

The South Asian nation is conducting the 50-nation MILAN 2024 exercises amid the Red Sea crisis  
Russian warships train in India alongside vessels from West and Iran

Two Russian Navy vessels have arrived in India, where they will participate in the multinational MILAN 2024 drills. The Slava Class cruiser Varyag and the Udaloy class cruiser Marshal Shaposhnikov reached the port of Visakhapatnam in southern India on Monday.  

The naval exercises hosted by New Delhi will feature over 50 countries, including the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia, as well as Iran, Yemen, Qatar, and Iraq. The timing is crucial, with some of participants having deployed vessels to the Red Sea amid tensions surrounding the Israel-Hamas war. 

Around 20 warships and submarines, maritime patrol aircrafts, and helicopters will take part in the drills, which will last until February 27. India is expected to deploy over 20 vessels, including the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier, built by Russia, and the INS Vikrant. “The central aim of MILAN 2024 is to enhance professional interaction between friendly navies and gain experience in multilateral large force operations at sea,” the Indian government said.  

Indian Navy chief R Hari Kumar told the media on Monday that his country is undertaking major anti-piracy and anti-drone operations in the North Arabian Sea and Red Sea amid the crisis. “We are cooperating with friendly foreign navies, largely for information exchange. We are the largest resident naval power in the Indian Ocean region. We are not going to permit anybody to disrupt the security, stability and safety in this region,” he stated. 

India has significantly ramped up its presence in the vital Red Sea shipping lane as Yemeni Houthi rebels continue to launch attacks on passing merchant ships “in solidarity” with the besieged Gaza. New Delhi has also raised concerns over increased activity from Somali pirates, who typically hijack vessels for ransom.  

This year is the 12th edition of the MILAN exercises, which started back in 1995. The drills will involve harbor and sea phases, with the latter running from February 24 to 27 and including air defense exercises, anti-submarine maneuvers, and anti-surface warfare drills. Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh will hold talks with delegates from the participating nations on maritime issues of mutual concern, and will exchange potential solutions.

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