India and Russia are working on a new format of military exercises involving their armies, navies and air forces, a first for both countries. Defence ministry sources said on Wednesday the first such exercise in a tri-service format could be held in Russia by the year-end.
As of now, Indo-Russian joint military drills called Indra are either army-to-army, navy-to-navy or air force-to- air force. The two countries have been holding the Indra series of exercises since 2003.
“Details are being worked out. The first exercise in the new format could be held in October-November,” the official said. India conducts bilateral drills with other countries, including the US and the UK, in a service-to-service framework, say army-to-army or navy-to-navy. A commonality of military platforms operated by the Indian and Russian militaries helps smoothen the conduct of bilateral drills.
India and Russia will have two more rounds of talks to arrive at the new format of exercises.
Last year, Russia conducted its first ever military exercise with Pakistan, triggering concerns in India. Interestingly, Russian troops landed in Pakistan for the drills on the day when India and Russia had kicked off Indra-2016 in Vladivostok. The Indian Army sent 250 soldiers from the Kumaon Regiment for the exercise, while Russia was represented by 250 soldiers from the 59th Motorised Infantry Brigade.
Meanwhile, defence minister Arun Jaitley will travel to Russia next week to attend the Moscow Conference on International Security. An Indian defence minister is taking part in the conference for the first time with previous editions being attended by junior ministers (minister of state for defence)