India has decided against participating in next month's multilateral defence exercise in southern Russia to be held in September. The decision to withdraw from military exercise named Kavkaz 2020 was taken after a high-level military and diplomatic meeting.
Notably, the development has come amidst China and Pakistan also participating in the exercise. The recent clash between the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA at Galwan valley hasn't gone well with the Modi government.
India cites COVID-19 to withdraw from the exercise
However, India has restrained from mentioning China and Pakistan in its reason to skip the exercise. India has cited COVID-19 to decide against participating in the exercise. "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 the pandemic and consequent difficulties in exercise, including arrangements of logistics, India has decided not to send the contingent to Kavkaz 2020. The same has been informed to the Russian side," reported the Hindu quoting one of the Defence Ministry officials.
The invitations to Kavkaz 2020 strategic command-post exercise, also known as Caucasus-2020 which is scheduled in Southern Russia from September 15 to 26 has also been extended to China, Pakistan, and Turkey. Members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) have also been invited to a military exercise.
India had confirmed its participation earlier
Earlier this month, India has confirmed its participation in the exercise. Following confirmation, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has identified a contingent from the Indian Army, Navy, and Airforce. India had previously intended to send in an infantry battalion a company-level strength of around 180 soldiers, 40 Air Force personnel, and two Navy officers as observers.
One of the other sources said, "All planning has been completed, fund allocation was also done and the personnel started practicing for the exercise." Although it is learned that China has confirmed its participation, it is also likely that Pakistan will send its troops for the exercise. In total the exercise will include 13,000 soldiers.