NEW DELHI: In a last-minute decision, India withdrew its contingent on Saturday from participating in a multinational military exercise in Russia scheduled in mid-September this year.
A senior officer confirmed, “We have withdrawn from Kavkaz 2020 'strategic command post exercise' scheduled to be held in Astrakhan region, Russia from September 15 to September 26.”
The reason is the prevailing tension between India and China along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh and reluctance of India to exercise together with the Chinese and Pakistan military troops, added the source.
The Ministry of Defence, however, said, "in view of the pandemic and consequent difficulties in exercise, including arrangements of logistics, India has decided not to send a contingent this year to Kavkaz-2020”.
India had confirmed last week the participation of its tri-services contingent of 178 troops with 140 from the Army, 36 of the Air Force and two from Navy. Indian Army was sending troops of the Dogra Regiment, the Special Forces, Armoured, Mechanised, Artillery, Signals, Engineers, Army Air Defence.
In June Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Chinese counterpart, Wei Fenghe were in Moscow to attend the victory parade for World War-II but there was no bilateral meeting between the two.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is expected to travel again to Moscow for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Defence Ministers’ meeting on September 3. This will be his second visit to Moscow since the border stand-off with China began in early May.
Total of 12,500 troops from 18 countries including Iran, Turkey, Syria, Central Asian Nations and all other Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) members are going to participate. China is also sending around 3 Frigates of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy.
The scope of the exercise includes joint Counter-terror operation with an aim to empower group of troops (forces) of the coalition of states in the interest of ensuring security in its South-West of Russia.
Around 40,000 soldiers each of the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA has been locked in a tense standoff since the first week of May at the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh. The Indian army is prepared for a long haul.