Seven Bulgarian nationals were among 17 crew members rescued by the Indian Navy
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev has expressed his deep gratitude towards the Indian government and the Indian Navy for the commendable rescue operation in the Arabian Sea on March 15-16, 2024, liberating the hijacked cargo ship MV Ruen and its crew. The crew included seven Bulgarian nationals among the 17 people on board.
"My sincere gratitude to PM @narendramodi for the brave action of Indian Navy rescuing the hijacked Bulgarian ship 'Ruen' and its crew, including 7 Bulgarian citizens," the Bulgarian President wrote on social media platform X.
Responding to President Radev's expressions of gratitude, Prime Minister Modi expressed India's dedication to maritime security. Posting on X, the Prime Minister conveyed India's steadfast resolve in safeguarding the freedom of navigation and addressing the challenges of piracy and terrorism within the Indian Ocean region.
He wrote, "Appreciate your message, President of the Republic of Bulgaria. We are happy that 7 Bulgarian nationals are safe and will be returning home soon. India is committed to protecting freedom of navigation and combating piracy and terrorism in the Indian Ocean region."
On March 17, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel had also taken to X to thank India.
"I express my gratitude to the Indian navy for the successful operation to rescue the hijacked vessel Ruen & its crew members, including 7 BG nationals Thank you for support & great effort. We continue to work together to protect lives of the crew," she said on social media platform X. 
"That's what friends are for," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in response.
Unprecedented Anti-Piracy Operation Demonstrates Indian Navy’s Prowess
For nearly 40 hours on March 15-16, 2024, teams of the Indian Navy carried out an unprecedented and successful anti-piracy operation nearly 1,400 nautical miles (2,600 km) from the Indian coastline.
The operation led by INS Kolkata also saw the Indian Air Force (IAF) playing a key role and led to the surrender of all 35 Somali pirates who had captured ex-MV Ruen on December 14, 2023. The 17 crew members were also evacuated safely.
The latest anti-piracy operation and India's consistent efforts in the Indian Ocean Region received praise from US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin during a telephonic conversation with his Indian counterpart, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Austin lauded the Indian Navy for its "important role" in conducting anti-piracy operations.
The rescue operation of MV Ruen and the subsequent international reactions highlight the Indian Navy's growing prowess and the broader implications for regional security and cooperation. With India's maritime capabilities receiving global acknowledgment, the nation stands as a pivotal player in ensuring the safety and security of international waters, further renewing its strategic partnerships around the globe.