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India, Russia and collaboration in IOR

Activities in the Indian Ocean Region has gotten interesting ever since Russia was included as a dialogue partner in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). The inclusion opens up new opportunities for Russia and India to collaborate on a host of issues, including maritime security. Russia is also a welcome addition to value add to scientific research for the region. 

India and Russia following this move will participate in joint Naval exercises and collaboration. The IOR region is often considered as India’s backyard and adding Russia to become a possible partner in IOR following the 2+2 dialogue in December 2021 highlights the closer ties between India and Russia. 

Russia’s inclusion also makes trilateral naval events possible. 

Experts believe this move will help in bringing balance to the region. 

India had always expressed support for Russia’s inclusion in IORA. India wanted that the Russian government should play active role in IORA. 

The outcome of the 2+2 (Foreign and Defence ministers’) dialogue between India and Russia has been to formalize Navy to Navy contact in a formal way by 2022. It is expected that the two countries will also sign the Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS). 

Russia was included as the dialogue partner of IORA in November 2021. This action highlights Moscow’s willingness to participate in the evolving geopolitics of IOR.

For Moscow this is a well thought out move. Russia’s National Security Strategy in July 2021 states that relations with India and China are one of its foreign policy priorities. Way back in 2015, the Russian National Maritime Doctrine stated that maintaining friendly relations with India is one of the main objectives in the Indian Ocean Region. 

Russia already plays crucial role off coast of Somalia to counter piracy. Moscow also collaborates closely with Mozambique, Madagascar and Sudan. Russia also plans to set up a base in Myanmar.

In India’s immediate neighbhourhood, Russia has been working closely with Sri Lanka. Russian Navy held its first ever exercise with ASEAN nations off the coast of Indonesia in December 2021.

During the 2+2 dialogue India and Russia decided to develop Vladivostok and Chennai Energy corridor. This seems like a win-win deal for both the countries as India can have alternate source of energy supplier, apart from Middle Eastern countries and Russia can get access to Indo-Pacific region. 

With increasing Chinese dominance, security architecture of IOR has undergone a lot of change. Collaboration with the US and Russia will help India is countering Chinese threat in land and ocean.