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Although India had confirmed its participation in Kavkaz 2020 military exercise in Russia and a tri-service contingent consisting of 150 Army personnel and small number of Navy and Air Force personnel was also identified, now the GOI has withdrawn its participation citing logistics difficulties due to COVID-19 pandemic. However, the participation of Chinese troops amid the ongoing standoff in Ladakh could also be a reason.
The invitees to Kavkaz 2020 strategic command-post exercise, also referred to as Caucasus-2020, to be held in Astrakhan in Southern Russia from September 15 to 26 include China, Pakistan and Turkey apart from other member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
According to the Defence Ministry official, Russia and India are close and privileged strategic partners. At Russia’s invitation India has been participating in many international events. However, in view of pandemic and consequent difficulties in exercise, including arrangements of logistics, India has decided not to send contingent this year to Kavkaz 2020.
Apart worsening COVID-19 situation in India, other reasons include participation of Chinese troops, the defence source cited above stated. Another reason was the participation of Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the exercise which have only been recognized by Russia and few other countries.
The standoff on the border in Eastern Ladakh with China has been ongoing since first week of May and several rounds of talks for disengagement have failed to end the impasse.
It is to be mentioned that India and Chinese military contingents marched at the Victory Day Parade at Red Square in Moscow to mark the 75th anniversary of World War II in last June 2020. Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh represented India at the Parade also attended by his Chinese counterpart though there were no bilateral engagements between them. However, Mr. Singh is scheduled to visit Moscow for participation in the SCO defence ministers meeting also to be attended by his Chinese counterpart.