Indian Ocean India-Russia naval exercise

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Russia’s Eastern Fleet is seen from the deck of the Shenyang Y-15 aircraft carrier as it returns to port after a five-year deployment to China India and Russia…

Indian Ocean India-Russia naval exercise

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Russia’s Eastern Fleet is seen from the deck of the Shenyang Y-15 aircraft carrier as it returns to port after a five-year deployment to China

India and Russia have completed a major joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean, extending defence ties across the global commons.

The two navies have been working together for nearly 20 years, but the exercise, named “Indo-Russian Naval Bilateral Exchange and Training Programme 2018”, took the joint activity to a new level.

News of the new naval drills has prompted speculation about how Russian President Vladimir Putin will respond to new US sanctions targeting Russia.

On Friday, the US imposed sanctions against 18 Russian individuals and entities, following the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in March.

Mr Putin reportedly called the sanctions a “declaration of a naval war”.

He has not publicly said whether he will comply with any new US sanctions.

Experts said India is not likely to seek Moscow’s help in any of the current punishments.

“This is not exactly a ‘give and take’ scheme where each country takes a balanced view of the other’s interests in providing support, assistance and funding to the other at various levels, especially diplomatically and economically,” said Sheila Sen, India’s former foreign secretary.

“It is not something where the Indians are suddenly required to be aggressive and uncooperative. Both the Indian navy and the Russian navy operate in the Indian Ocean and North Pacific at different times and different locations.”

Both navies play an important role in the Indo-Pacific region, which is becoming increasingly important to both countries.

The participants included six Indian warships and 50 military personnel from Russia.

The two navies also exchanged information and conducted several exercises.

The cooperation between the two countries on submarines and ship-borne exercises dates back to 1998.

“India’s and Russia’s navies’ interaction has evolved into a much deeper co-operation,” Admiral Sunil Lanba, chief of Indian Navy, said after the exercise.

It comes amid a growing India-US military relationship, led by the United States and India respectively.

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