Russia docked its warships in Bangladesh for the first time in five decades earlier this month and held its first joint naval exercises with Myanmar, while Moscow eyes a bigger role in the Indian Ocean region and seeks to strengthen ties with smaller Asian states .
Analysts say India is not averse to Russia, its long-standing ally and largest supplier of defense equipment, increasing its presence in its neighboring country’s maritime territory even as New Delhi forges ever-closer partnerships with the US, Japan and Australia to tackle China’s expanding footprint in the strategic waterway. .
Ignoring pressure from its Western partners, New Delhi maintained its decades-old ties with Moscow and took a neutral stance on the war in Ukraine.
“India wants Russia to play a more active role in the Indo-Pacific as this fits New Delhi’s larger strategic objectives regarding what it calls a multipolar world order. New Delhi believes that a multipolar Asia is important for building a multipolar world,” Praveen Donthi, senior India analyst at the International Crisis Group, told VOA.
“So far India has demonstrated its skills in overcoming such strategic dilemmas, for example in the war in Ukraine,” he explained.
The Russian Defense Ministry called the naval drills held with Myanmar in the Andaman Sea from November 7 to 9 “the first Russian-Myanmar naval exercises in modern history.”
Two anti-submarine attack ships, Admiral Tributs and Admiral Panteleyev from the Russian Pacific Fleet, participated in the exercise with a frigate and a corvette from the Myanmar Navy.
Days after the drills with Myanmar, the same Russian warships docked at Chittagong Harbor in Bangladesh’s Bay of Bengal, the first such visit in 50 years. The Russian Embassy in Dhaka called it “an important milestone in Russian-Bangladesh relations.”
Russia also held two-day naval exercises with India in the Bay of Bengal “to strengthen naval cooperation,” according to the Russian Defense Ministry. (uh/ab)