INDRA is a biennial Russian-Indian exercise aimed at practicing cooperation in enforcing maritime law and countering piracy, terrorism and drug smuggling. INDRA-2009 is the fourth such exercise since 2003 and will involve a number of live-fire drills.
"The exercise will be held in the Arabian Sea at the end of January. Russia will be represented by six ships, including the Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered missile cruiser," General of the Army Nikolai Makarov said.
The Northern Fleet's Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser is currently anchored 10 miles off the coast of South Africa, taking food and water supplies and awaiting the permission to dock in Cape Town on the way to the Indian Ocean.
A naval task force led by the cruiser recently participated in joint exercises with the Venezuelan navy in the Caribbean.
The Pyotr Veliky will join up with warships from the Pacific Fleet for the INDRA-2009 exercise. The Admiral Vinogradov, an Udaloy class destroyer, a tugboat and two fuel tankers are already in the Indian Ocean, having left Russia's Far East a month ago.
Following the exercise, the Admiral Vinogradov will replace the Neustrashimy (Fearless) missile frigate from Russia's Baltic Fleet in the Gulf of Aden protecting commercial shipping from pirate attacks off the Somali coast.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.