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Stage set for first-ever Russia-ASEAN navy exercise in Indonesian waters

Russia's large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleev will take part in ASEAN-Russia Naval exercise titled ARNEX (Image courtesy: Twitter/MOD_Russia)

Admiral Panteleev, the large anti-submarine warship of Russia's Pacific Fleet, has arrived at the port of Belawan on the northeast coast of Indonesia's Sumatra to participate in the first-ever joint naval exercise of the Russian Navy and the naval forces of the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) starting Wednesday.

Titled 'ARNEX' (ASEAN-Russia Naval exercise), the three-day exercise will be held in the North Sumatra region of Indonesia and is aimed at increasing interoperability between the navies of ASEAN member countries and Russia to ensure the safety of maritime economic activities and civil shipping in the region.

Prabovo Subiyanto, the Defence Minister of Indonesia, is scheduled to inaugurate the exercise from the Russian destroyer tomorrow. It will be conducted in virtual (harbour) and maritime (sea) phases.  

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com last week, the decision to hold the joint naval exercise was made at the Fourth Russia-ASEAN Summit on October 28 which was also attended virtually by the Russian President Vladimir Putin .

The meeting was timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Russia-ASEAN relations, which is being celebrated this year, Alexander Ivanov, Russia's Permanent Representative to ASEAN, had revealed to RIA Novosti, the state-owned domestic news agency of Russia.

The first-of-its-kind exercise will see participation from Vietnam People's Navy (VPN) frigate VPNS Ly Thai To (HQ-012), Indonesia's first SIGMA 10514 guided missile frigate KRI Raden Eddy Martadinata,  Royal Malaysian Navy frigate KD Lekiu, Singapore Navy's Victory-class corvette RSS Vigour, Royal Brunei Navy's off-shore patrol vessel KDB Daruttaqwa, Royal Thai Navy's HTMS Kraburi and Myanmar Navy frigate UMS Kyansittha.

Moscow's new approach to the Indo-Pacific

Moscow's renewed push to enhance defence partnerships with like-minded partners in the region, including India, defines Kremlin's fresh approach to the fast-changing geopolitical situation in the Indo-Pacific.

"We now have real opportunities to intensify cooperation between Russia and ASEAN, including with regard to strengthening stability and security, post-pandemic economic recovery, stimulating trade, and expanding humanitarian contacts," Putin had said during the Russia-ASEAN summit.  

The Russian President had added that both Russia and ASEAN member countries support the expansion of "equal and mutually beneficial cooperation" in the vast Asia-Pacific space and shared a similar stance on key global and regional matters in many respects.

While inaugurating the Moscow Conference on International Security in June, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had acknowledged Kremlin's military cooperation with the countries of the region expanding significantly.

"Recently, we have qualitatively strengthened our interaction with strategic partners – China, India, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Mongolia. The topics of dialogue with Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei have been significantly expanded. We intend to continue and build on our joint work," Shoigu had commented.

Russia's changing foreign policy priorities and its renewed focus on South Asia, along with strengthening of ties with ASEAN and its member states, is quite visible with Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolay Patrushev's visits to New Delhi and Colombo over the past few weeks and ARNEX which kicks off on Wednesday.

Also Read: Ahead of his visit, Putin praises India as one of the hubs of a multipolar world