India unlikely to participate in mega war game in Russia next month

New Delhi: India is unlikely to send a tri-services military contingent to take part in a multilateral war game in Russia next month which is to be participated by China and Pakistan, government sources said on Saturday.

Last week India had conveyed to Russia that it will participate in the strategic command-post exercise to be held in the Astrakhan region in southern Russia from September 15 to 26.

“A decision has been taken to not participate in the exercise,” said a source.

Though no reason has been cited officially about India’s review of the earlier decision, people familiar with the development indicated that China’s participation in the exercise could be a factor in India deciding not to be part of it.

Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in a standoff in several areas along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh for over three-and-a-half months. Both the countries are holding talks at military and diplomatic levels to resolve the dispute.

China, Pakistan and a number of other member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) are expected to participate in the exercise.

India had earlier planned to send around 150 Indian Army troops, 45 Indian Air Force personnel and a number of Navy officers for the exercise.

Russia has been a major partner of India in the defence sector and the cooperation has been steadily growing further.

In June, a tri-services contingent from India participated at the Victory Day Parade at the iconic Red Square in Moscow to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War. A contingent from China had also attended it.

Both India and China are members of the SCO, an influential regional grouping.

The SCO, seen as a counterweight to NATO, has emerged as one of the largest transregional international organisations which accounts for almost 44 per cent of the world population stretching from the Arctic Ocean to the Indian Ocean and from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea.

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