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Indian, Russian Navies Begin Joint Exercises

The joint exercises of Indian and Russian navies began Tuesday, though Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Russian counterpart Sergei Ivanov had to skip the inaugural ceremony since water logging at the airport prevented them from landing at the port city Visakhapatnam.

"They were unable to go as the airport is still water-logged because of heavy rains over the weekend. But the exercise is on as planned," Indo-Asian News Service quoted a navy spokesperson as saying.

The exercises, christened INDRA-2005, are being conducted on the eastern seaboard off the Visakhapatnam coast. The first joint exercise INDRA-2003 was held in 2003.

The Russian Navy has sent its Pacific Fleet's flagship, the missile cruiser Varyag, anti-submarine ships Admiral Tributs and Admiral Panteleyev, tanker Pechenega and tugboat Kalar for the exercises.

During the exercises, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy's Pacific Fleet, Vice Admiral Sergei Viktorovich Avramenko is embarked on the Varyag, the Flag-Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, Vice Admiral Sureesh Mehta, will be aboard Indian Navy Ship (INS) Mumbai, the flagship of the Eastern Fleet.

The exercises will include surface firing, air defense and anti-submarine warfare maneuvers and a debriefing on the last day Oct 20.

The exercises are expected to give a new dimension to the relationship between the armed forces of the two countries towards building mutual trust and better understanding of each other, an Indian Navy spokesperson said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2005)


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