Indian, Russian navies to expand cooperation in Indian Ocean Region

Monday, January 17, 2011

NEW DELHI - India and Russia Monday discussed the security environment in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), particularly piracy threats and expanding cooperation to fight the menace, at a meeting between the navy chiefs of the two countries.

The Russian Navy’s commander-in-chief, Admiral Vladimir Sergeevich Vysotskiy, Monday began a three-day visit at the invitation of his Indian counterpart, Admiral Nirmal Verma.

The two admirals had discussions on issues of common interest ranging from the maritime environment in the IOR, operational philosophies of the two navies, ongoing projects of the Indian Navy and mutual training exchanges, a navy spokesperson said here.

Whilst discussing the maritime environment, specific emphasis was laid on the growing threat of piracy in the IOR and various possibilities for the two navies to co-operate, the spokesperson added.

Detailed discussions were also held on the ongoing projects between the two countries, including the training of Indian naval personnel for the operating the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier (formerly the Admiral Gorshkov) that is scheduled to commence later this year.

India had bought the Gorshkov in 2004 for $1.5 billion, but in the last six years the cost of its refit at the Sevmash shipyard in Russia has escalated and a final price of $2.34 billion was agreed to last February. The warship is expected to be inducted into the Indian Navy by the end of 2012.

Other matters discussed included the possibility of regularising the navy-to-navy interaction with staff talks and the feasibility of enhancing the scope of the Indra series of joint naval exercises between the two countries.

India and Russia share deep historical linkages for over 50 years and in recent years, defence relations between the two countries have transformed into a strategic partnership with joint developmental projects such as the BrahMos cruise missile and the latest agreement for jointly developing a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft.

The Indian and Russian navies have regularly conducted the Indra joint exercises since 2003, with five editions held so far. The last exercise Indra-2009 was conducted off Goa, while the guided missile frigate INS Beas made a port call at St. Petersburg in Russia last year.

Vysotskiy will visit the Mumbai-based Western Naval Command Tuesday and will board INS Shivalik, an indigenously built stealth frigate inducted into the Indian Navy last year.

Vysotskiy, a graduate from the Black Sea Naval College and the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, has served as the Chief of Staff of the Baltic Fleet and Commander of the Northern Fleet before taking over as the Commander-in-Chief in 2007.

–Indo Asian News Service

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