Russia said yesterday it was holding joint naval exercises with India in the Bay of Bengal, as the two countries bolster security ties despite Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.
The United States has in the past voiced concern about India holding joint drills with Russia, which has been trying to expand its influence in the region.
“The purpose of the exercise is to comprehensively develop and strengthen naval co-operation between Russia and India,” Moscow’s defence ministry said. The drills will help the two navies “jointly counter global threats and ensure the safety of civilian shipping in the Asia-Pacific region,” Moscow added. They are planned to last until today and will involve ships from Russia’s Pacific Fleet, including the Admiral Tributs anti-submarine destroyer, it said. India has economic and security interests in both Russia and the West and has tried to strike a careful balancing act between the two sides, despite the conflict. It has not joined Western countries in sanctioning Moscow over the offensive in Ukraine and has benefited from a steep discount in Russian oil supplies.
Meanwhile, US and Philippine troops began joint maritime and air patrols off the Southeast Asian country yesterday, President Ferdinand Marcos said, as the countries seek to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the region.