Putin's regime foreign minister is holding talks in India and today will launch his two-days Pakistan visit.
Australia, India, Japan and the United States, the three Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the Quad countries kicked off a major naval exercise along with France in the Bay of Bengal on Monday, underlining the growing strategic congruence in ensuring a secure and stable Indo-Pacific in face of China’s belligerence in the region.
The exercises test different elements of the defensive scenarios as a response to the continued drills of Communist China's military.
Since at least last December, the Chinese army increased their maneuvers on the sea around Taiwan and in the proximity of Japan, on the ground at the border with Vietnam and Laos, and in the air over the so-called second chain of islands, not far from Australia.
Russia's military has been more often, as an unannounced ally, taking part in the navy and air drills in the Indo-Pacific.
The Quad drill began one day after Kremlin said it attached great importance on rejection of confrontation and bloc-type approaches thought to be a reference to Quad and the Indo-Pacific initiative, both of which it views as divisive and aimed at containing Communist China.
Incidentally, Russian foreign minister Mr. Sergey Lavrov landed in Delhi on an official visit Monday.
France joins Quad for the first time
In the Bay of Bengal, India deployed its stealth frigate INS Satpura and anti-submarine warfare corvette INS Kiltan, along with P-8I long range maritime patrol aircraft, for the three-day “La Pérouse” exercise.
The exercise will witness complex and advanced naval operations, including surface warfare, anti-air warfare and air defence operations as well as weapon firings, cross-deck flying, tactical manoeuvres and seamanship evolutions such as replenishment at sea, informed Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal.
It will showcase high levels of synergy, coordination and interoperability between the five friendly navies. Participation by the Indian Navy in the exercise demonstrates the shared values with the friendly navies in ensuring freedom of seas and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order, he added.
Australia has deployed frigate Anzac and tanker Sirius, while Japan is represented by destroyer Akebono.The US is represented by amphibious transport dock ship Somerset.
France also joined the drill with amphibious assault warship Tonnerre and frigate Surcouf.
On Monday, the French Navy amphibious assault helicopter carrier Tonnerre and frigate Surcouf were welcomed to the Indian port of Cochin, with the ships proceeding to the war games thereafter.
Commodore Anil Jai Singh, Vice President of the Indian Maritime Foundation told Financial Express, France has always maintained a significant naval presence in the Indian Ocean . . . and was also the first country to appoint an observer at the IOR-IFC (Indian Ocean Region Information Fusion Centre) set up by India on the outskirts of the national capital.
The navies of the Quad had also come together for the high-voltage Malabar exercise in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea in November last year after a gap of 13 years.
Hope for like-NATO the Indo-Pacific Counter-China Alliance
The ongoing Quad-plus France exercise comes soon after Indian warships and fighters also held another exercise with the mammoth nuclear-powered USS Theodore Roosevelt and its accompanying warships in the same region last week.
With the Quad countries declaring their firm intent to deter any “coercion” in the Indo-Pacific during a summit of their leaders on March 12, a multi-tier cooperation and coordination mechanism is now taking shape to advance security as well as counter threats in the region.
The Quad is slowly gearing up to counter China’s meteoric military and economic rise seen in the last couple of decades; China considers the Quad alliance as a possible “Asian NATO” of the future.
US secretary of defence Lloyd Austin and South Korean defence minister Suh Wook, both former Army generals, had also made back-to-back visits to India last month to discuss bilateral and multilateral mechanisms to bolster security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.