Despite prevailing tensions with China, Indian and Chinese armies will participate in a 6-day-long multilateral exercise on counter-terrorism to be held In Vladivostok in Russia beginning Monday.

Over 30 Indian Army personnel, drawn from Rajputana Rifles, equipped with Made in India weapon systems along with those acquired from foreign sources, will depart on Saturday to take part in the multilateral exercise. fThe exercise would also include participation of army personnel from 13 countries, sources in the Indian Army said. Of them, besides India, China, and Russia, ten armies are from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“IndianArmy contingent will participate for the first time in the Joint Exercise from Sep to 30 Sep 23 at #Vladivostok, #Russia under the umbrella of #ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus Experts Working Group (ADMM plus EWG). The exercise is aimed to share expertise between participating Armies & promote regional cooperation between #ASEAN countries.” the Indian Army wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

The visiting Indian Army contingent will be sharing practical aspects of counter-terrorism operations gained through decades-long deployment in Jammu & Kashmir and in the northeastern states. Sources in the Indian Army also revealed that during brainstorming sessions and tactical drills with the armies of other participating countries , its contingent will be open to new ideas. . The use of new technology in the counter-terrorism theatre would also form part of the drills that would be carried between September 25-26, said Indian Army sources. Like in any other joint exercises, the Rajputana Rifles would be carrying with them Made in India weapons which gives India an opportunity to showcase them before foreign armies, army sources explained.

Military diplomacy

The participation of Indian Army in the exercise is seen as an attempt by India to engage in military diplomacy to counter-balance influence of China in the ASEAN. This move comes despite New Delhi’s friendly bilateral defence ties individually with each of ASEAN’s member countries said Indian Army officials. The officials added that message to be conveyed is India’s huge regard for relations with other countries , especially with Russia despite the latter’s global isolation since the beginning of 18-month-long war with Ukraine, they observed.

This is, however, not the first time Indian Army would be participating in an exercise that involved China. Last September, armies of the two neighbouring adversaries also sweated out in “Vostok-2022” at Sergeyevsky, East Military District of Russia. At that point of time, troops from 7/8 Gorkha Rifles had joined the multilateral exercise that too saw participation Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

India also attended “Zapad exercise” in 2021, again in Russia that saw 17 countries such as China and Pakistan joining in for the drills.

The relations between India and China have slipped for worse since Galwan face off between the two armies in eastern Ladakh in May, 2020. The PLA troops clashed with Indian Army again on December 9, 2022, in the Tawang sector of Line of Actual Control (LAC), Arunachal Pradesh.