India in talks for logistics pacts with Russia, U.K. and Vietnam

Agreement gives access to Moscow’s facilities in Arctic region which is seeing increased global activity

September 12, 2020 06:01 pm | Updated 06:01 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Indian, US and Japanese naval ships in the 2017 Malabar exercise at the Chennai Port.

Indian, US and Japanese naval ships in the 2017 Malabar exercise at the Chennai Port.

After concluding a logistics support agreement with Japan early this week, India is now working on three such agreements with Russia, the U.K. and Vietnam, two official sources said. The agreement with Russia is expected to be signed in October.

Following the agreement with Japan early this week, India now has military logistics agreements with all Quad countries , Australia, Japan and the U.S., significantly improving interoperability as they also operate several common military platforms.

Also Read | Moscow creating positive environment for resolution of disputes: Russian diplomat

The agreements with the U.K. and Vietnam are under discussion, one of the sources said. The agreement with Russia, the Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS), is expected to be signed during the bilateral summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin in mid-October, Roman Babushkin, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Russian Embassy in India, said early this week.

The agreement gives India access to Russian facilities in the Arctic region which is seeing increased global activity as new shipping routes open up and resources become available, officials said earlier. India has recently announced investments in the Russian Far East.

Malabar exercise

The utility of the agreements will be visible at the next edition of the Malabar trilateral naval exercise scheduled to be held in November, the first source said. As reported by The Hindu earlier, an informal consensus has been arrived yet to invite Australia to join the Malabar exercise but the formal invitation has not been extended yet. It is not yet clear if Canberra would be invited for this year’s edition.

In June, India and Australia signed the long pending Mutual Logistics Support (MLSA), elevated their partnership to Comprehensive Strategic partnership and also announced a joint declaration on a shared vision for maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. The logistics pact with Japan, Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services between armed forces, was signed early this week. India and Japan have already signed an implementing arrangement for deeper cooperation between the Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF).

India has signed several logistics agreements in recent years beginning with the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (LEMOA) with the U.S. in 2016, and the Navy has been the biggest beneficiary of them.

Also Read | Make the right call on ‘Malabar’ going Quad

There has been a sharp increase in India’s maritime interactions with the Quad countries on a bilateral basis centred around information sharing for improved Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) in the Indian Ocean Region and Indo-Pacific. The Andaman and Nicobar islands located close to the strategic Strait of Malacca have been of interest to several countries including Australia and Japan.

After India signed foundational agreement Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) with the U.S., it got access to encrypted communication systems for seamless communication. As part of this, in March 2019 the Navy and U.S. Navy signed a loan agreement and installed two Pacific fleet provided CENTRIXS (Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System) kits at the Indian Navy headquarters. Discussions are on for more systems to be installed in a variety of places and platforms, though officials declined to give a specific number. These along with the logistics pacts will significantly improve interoperability.

Logistics agreements are administrative arrangements facilitating access to military facilities for exchange of fuel and provisions on mutual agreement simplifying logistical support and increasing operational turnaround of the military when operating away from India.

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