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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 May, 2003, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
India and Russia war games
The Indian and Russian navies have begun a war exercise in the Arabian Sea.

It is the first between the two countries since the break-up of the Soviet Union 14 years ago.

The exercises are said to involve a large deployment of warships from both sides, involving Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

Moskva missile cruiser in the Arabian Sea
Russia's Moskva missile cruiser is taking part
The exercises aim to consolidate defence relations between the two countries as well as strengthen the Russian presence in the Arabian Sea.

Russian Vice Admiral YV Orlov described the event as "historic".

"These exercises confirm the doctrine of President Putin of our resolve to have strength in the area," he told journalists on a ship anchored off Bombay (Mumbai).

The joint exercises include surface-to-surface missile test fires, practice in artillery firing on sea and air targets, combating enemy submarines and rescue missions on the high seas with the use of on-board helicopters.

Russia has sent its Black Sea Fleet's flagship missile cruiser Moskva as well as missile destroyers Marshal Shaposhnikov and Admiral Panteleyev.

Accompanying them are the Indian aircraft carrier Viraat, missile destroyers Bombay and Mysore, guided missile frigate Brahmaputra and submarine Sinduratna.

The fleets will later move to India's southern coast, where the exercises are scheduled to be held close to the port of Vishakapatnam in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh next month.

The erstwhile Soviet Union had a close relationship with India, providing it with the bulk of its defence assets.

Spreading its reach

In an unrelated development, a report in The Indian Express newspaper says that India has agreed to send navy ships to Mozambique during an African summit.

India will provide two ships as well as personnel to provide "coastal security cover during a meeting of the heads of African nations scheduled for early July", the paper reported.

The plan to provide the ships was agreed during a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and the visiting Mozambique President, Joaquim Chissano, last week.

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