From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Vostok 2022
Mains level : India-Russia Relations
Russia is holding Vostok exercises. However, India has only sent its army contingent of the 7/8 Gorkha Rifles, and will not take part in the maritime section of the two-part event.
- It is an annual, multilateral, strategic and command exercise hosted by Russia.
- This year it will see the participation of more than 50,000 troops from 13 countries such as India, China, Algeria, India, Laos, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Syria and many more.
- While the exercises in Vostok-2022 are routine, they are the first such multilateral exercises to be held since the Russian war in Ukraine began.
Why in news now?
- India has only sent its army contingent and will not take part in the maritime section of the two-part event.
- This is because the maritime part of the exercises would be held in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan.
- These are near the disputed South Kuril Islands.
- India’s decision not to take part in the naval exercises is believed to be in deference to Tokyo’s sensitivities.
What does India’s participation mean?
By sending an army contingent to join Russian and Chinese troops in the exercises at this time, New Delhi is aiming to send a four-pronged message:
- Continuing relationship with Russia despite the Ukraine war: The Modi government has decided not to join the Western sanctions regime, or to curb oil imports and other economic engagement with Moscow.
- Signal balance and non-alignment in the current crisis: India has mostly abstained from votes at the United Nations seeking to criticise Russia.
- India also takes part in routine Indo-Pacific exercises: This is with its Western partners including the Quad, as well as in bilateral exercises, like the India-US Ex. Yudh Abhyas.
- Willingness to conditional engagement with China: The message the government continues to give is that it is willing to engage with China on a number of fronts, even as military talks at LAC (Line of Actual Control) remain stuck.
- There might be some discomfort for Indian soldiers in dealing with their counterparts at a time when they are facing each other off along the LAC.
- But that’s a small price to pay if it means keeping India-Russia ties on an even keel.
- India needs to start communicating its intent better.
- Strategic communication is an art. It’s time to master it.