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Russia, India start joint naval drills in Indian Ocean

RIA Novosti

27/01/2009 19:08 NEW DELHI, January 27 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian and Indian navies have started joint naval exercises in the Arabian Sea off the Indian coast, an Indian military source said on Tuesday.

INDRA is a biennial Russian-Indian exercise aimed at practicing cooperation in enforcing maritime law and countering piracy, terrorism and drug smuggling. INDRA-2009 is the fourth such exercise since 2003 and will involve a number of live-fire drills.

"The first stage of a PASSEX type exercise involves practicing combat interoperability and communications drills," the source said.

Russia's Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser from the Northern Fleet and the Indian guided-missile destroyer INS Delhi are taking part in the first stage, which will last until January 29.

Following the first stage, the Russian cruiser will visit the port of Marmugao in the Indian state of Goa on January 29-31 before heading to the Somali coast to participate in the second stage of the drills, which involves practicing joint anti-piracy operations.

The Pyotr Veliky will join up with a task force from Russia's Pacific Fleet, comprising the Admiral Vinogradov, an Udaloy class destroyer, a tugboat and two fuel tankers, which are carrying out anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden.

Pirates have been increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, where over 110 ships were attacked in 2008, with 42 vessels seized and 815 crew members abducted. Up to 20 warships from the navies of at least 10 countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of the lawless East African nation.

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