Indian warships are in Russia this week as part of a four day visit.
The Indian naval ships INS Sahyadri, INS Shakti, and INS Kirch, part of the Eastern Fleet, arrived in Vladivostok on June 27 as part of a deployment to the South China Sea.
India and Russia already have a strong defense relationship as part of their broader strategic partnership, with both sides engaging not just in exercises and exchanges but more advanced areas like joint research, development, and production of defense technologies and systems. As an Indian government press release on the warships visit noted, varying degrees of progress on projects such as the BrahMos missile system, joint design and development of Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, licensed production of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks, and the induction of the aircraft carrier Vikramditya into the Indian Navy are some tangible examples of this.
This cooperation extends into the naval realm as well. The two countries already engage annually in the INDRA NAVY maritime exercise in addition to visits by high-level delegations, training teams, and ships.
According to an Indian government press release, the current visit by the warships – the first by Indian ships to Russia since July 2014 – is aimed at further enhancing maritime cooperation between the two navies. The press release publicized the visit as “a demonstration of India’s commitment to longstanding India-Russia strategic partnership and Indian Navy’s increasing footprint and operational reach.”
During the voyage, which Russian Eastern Military District spokesman Igor Maiborodov called “an unofficial visit” according to Sputnik, the Indian Navy ships will have professional interactions with the Russian Navy to enhance cooperation. There will also be calls on Russian Pacific Fleet command and local authorities and a range of sporting and cultural interactions.
The Indian Navy ships were expected to conduct exercises with the Russian Navy aimed at enhancing interoperability in communications as well as in search and rescue procedures after they depart from Vladivostok.