Russia proposed ‘non-contact, at sea only’ PASSEX after INDRA NAVY-2020 was postponed due to COVID-19

The navies of India and Russia are all set to begin joint exercises near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands this week. The Economic Times has reported that the Passage Exercise (PASSESX) will be held on September 4 and 5. It coincides with Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh’s visit to Russia.

According to the report, the exercise is the result of Russia’s proposal to hold a ‘non-contact, at sea only’ PASSEX after INDRA NAVY-2020 was postponed due to COVID-19. Therefore, INDRA NAVY- 2020 will be held as PASSEX between September 4 and 5.

At the exercise, India has planned to send Ranvijay (Destroyer) Sahyadri (Frigate), Kiltan (Corvette) and Shakti (Tanker) with integrated Helicopters. Russian Navy ships Admiral Vinogradov (Destroyer), Admiral Tributs (Destroyer) and Boris Butoma (Tanker) will be passing through the Malacca Straits in the Bay of Bengal after visiting the port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka, the report said.

For INDRA NAVY-2020, maritime operations like Flying and Gun Firing on Surface and Aerial Targets, Tracking Exercises and Replenishment at Sea Approaches (RASAPS) have also been planned between the two nations.

“INDRA NAVY-2020 will once again showcase the level of friendship, trust and interoperability between Indian Navy and the Russian Navy,” a source told The Economic Times.

It coincides with RM Rajnath Singh’s visit to Russia this week to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet. The Defence Minister will also hold bilateral talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu and will discuss steps to widen defence partnership including supplies at critical times.

It comes at a time when India has pulled out of Kavkaz 2020, a multinational military exercise, amid India’s border tensions with China and Pakistan while coronavirus also seems to be a reason. India had last month said that it does not want to see its army alongside the Chinese and Pakistani armies which will be there to attend SCO meet.

India-Russia (INDRA) Exercises between the Army, Navy and Air Force of the two countries have been held since 2005, the report said.

Read the full report in The Economic Times