Indian envoy dismisses cancellation of Indo-Russian drills
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Last Updated: Thursday, June 02, 2011, 22:06
  
Moscow: India's newly appointed Ambassador Ajai Malhotra has strongly denied media reports about the last minute cancellation of an annual Indo-Russian drills by Russia last month when three Indian naval warships had already reached Vladivostok.

"There was nothing last-minute about the postponement of the naval exercise. In view of the earthquake in Japan, the Russians had informed us in mid-March of their decision to postpone it," Malhotra said.

"This was well over a month before that exercise was to have been held," Malhotra underlined responding to a question on calling-off of the bilateral naval and army exercises Indra-2011.

He said reports about the postponement of joint army exercise due this month "grossly over-dramatize a scheduling issue." "Our defence cooperation is a key element of our strategic partnership and continues apace," he stressed.

Commenting on the Indian media reports that the "last-minute" cancellation was a "calculated" snub, two leading Russian dailies - Vedomosti and Nezavisimaya Gazeta - yesterday wrote that it was a "stupid" and unintelligent act by the Russian military, probably caused by the ongoing restructuring of the armed forces and relocation of Naval Staff from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

Earlier, Indian Navy spokesperson Commander P V S Satish said in New Delhi that the "Russian Navy had deployed some of its warships for rescue efforts in Japan".

"They had already informed us that they will not able to pledge any warship for the exercise due to their engagement in Japan," the spokesperson said.

He said that following the communication from Russian Navy, a decision was taken to dispatch the Indian warships only for a port call at the Russian port Vladivostok.

Three Indian warships INS Delhi, INS Ranvijay and INS Ranvir went to Russia in April to participate in the annual exercises.

PTI


First Published: Thursday, June 02, 2011, 22:06


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