Shailesh Kumar, National Defence,
New Delhi, 01 November 2017
Ambassador Nikolay Rishatovich Kudashev of Russian federation said, “Different combinations are possible, tri-lateral, quadrilateral; But, what is important that voice of the countries, membering these combinations, should be clear”.
“They are here for common principals, non-exclusive principles of open international cooperation within Asia Indo- Pacific where there is space for everyone, where there is no use of force; Where, there is ample opportunity for cooperation. This is our idea promoted at different foras and you will hear it again at upcoming EAS Summit”.
Ambassador Kudashev was answering media queries here at South Block during media briefing after successful closing of first ever joint tri-services military exercise “Indra-2017” between Indian and Russian forces.
“It depends on the members of these trilateral or bilateral whether they would prefer to be block or non-block. This kind of architecture should be open, should be inclusive, should be non- block type. I am as clear as I could be under present circumstances”, he said.
Ambassador Kudashev also clarified that Russian military exercising with Pakistan Army should not be construed as Russian attempt of equalizing relationship between Russia and Pakistan with Russia and India.
“I don’t see any opportunity to equalize the relationship between Russia and Pakistan and Russia and India. Our relationship with India is relationship of specially privileged strategic partnership, second to no one country in the world”.
“While, our sincere desire is to have normal inter-state relationship with Pakistan. The purpose of Friendship-2017 (code name of exercise between Pakistan and Russia) was counter terrorism in Asia, and it was to support the reasonable elements within the Government of Pakistan to counter this common menace facing us”.
“I would underline there is no need to equalize the relationship. We could be looking for some kind of common denominator which is fighting common challenges and threats namely terror in all kinds of manifestation”, he added further.
The theme of Exercise INDRA-2017 was ‘Preparation and Conduct of Operations by a Joint Force for Suppression of International Terror Activity at the request of a host country under UN mandate’.
When asked about Russian views on China blocking Indian efforts of declaring Maulana Masood Azhar as International terrorist, he replied, “I can’t speak for China as China is a sovereign nation. Let it speak itself for itself”.
“As far as I can say, we guarantee, all of us, we are member to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, where there is ample common agenda to fight common challenges and threats namely terror, drugs and crime. Lets work along these lines. This will make life easier for all of us. This is my conviction, he explained.
More than 900 soldiers, sailors and air warriors from the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force participated in the exercise along with over 1000 personnel from the Russian Defence Forces. The exercise was conducted in the Sergeevsky Combined Arms Training Range, Cape Klerk Training Area and the waters of the Sea of Japan.
Lt General Satish Dua denied exercise being directed against any third country particularly China when asked that area of exercise, Vladivostok in Russia borders with China. Lt Gen Satish Dua said, “Choice of area was the decision of the host country. To the best of my understanding, we had to do tri-service exercise in air, sea and land”. “As the task force commander brought out there was an amphibious landing. As far as signaling is considered, this exercise was aimed at terror. We have also exercised several times with China in anti-terror operation”. “The message was friendly”, Russian ambassador Nikolay Rishatovich Kudashev promptly added soon after.
Russian ambassador also clarified his views on India exercising with Japan and US. “India is a sovereign nation and cleaver enough and wise enough to make sovereign and responsible decision. We would welcome the non block open, regional architecture where there will be space for all, where there would be added atmosphere of trust and confidence, naturally, India, Russia and Japan included”.
Ex-Indra-2017 signifying Indo-Russia defence cooperation culminated at a time when both the countries are commemorating 70 years of Indo-Russian friendship.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.