The eighth edition of India-Russia Joint Military Exercise 'INDRA-2016' has begun in the Ussiriysk district of Vladivostok in Russia, even as reports said Russian forces arrived in Pakistan on its first ever-joint military drill.
The main focus of this edition of the joint exercise - 'INDRA-2016' - is on 'Counter-Terrorism Operations in semi mountainous and jungle terrain under United Nations Mandate'.
''To achieve interoperability in joint operations, troops from both sides would acquaint themselves with the respective approach to such operations. A comprehensive training programme spanning eleven days has been drawn up for the purpose,'' says a defence ministry release.
The exercise started off with an impressive march past participating both Indian and Russian troops. Both contingents marched in unison, past the saluting dais.
India is represented by 250 soldiers of the Kumaon Regiment while the Russian army is being represented by 250 soldiers from the 59th Motorized Infantry Brigade.
Indra series of bilateral exercises is one of the major bilateral defence cooperation initiatives between India and Russia since 2003. The Indian contingent is scheduled to return to India on termination of the Exercise in the first week of October 2016.
Meanwhile, Pakistan today said its military will be holding the first ever exercise with Russian forces this month, in another sign of shifting alliances in South Asia.
Pakistan, which spent a decade helping the United States funnel arms and fighters into neighboring Afghanistan to help insurgent groups fight Soviet soldiers following their 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, is holding hands with Russia which it helped US fight in proxy war.
The reverse is happening now, minus the Taliban, as Pakistan's ties with Russia grow closer as its relations with the United States have cooled amidst allegations of Pakistan harbouring Afghan Taliban fighters.
Pakistan's top military spokesman, Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa, said a "contingent of Russian ground forces" arrived in Pakistan for a two-week exercise beginning on Saturday.
About 200 military personnel from both sides would be involved in the exercises, Pakistan's Tribune Express newspaper said, citing military sources.
Pakistani media last year reported Islamabad had bought four Mi-35 attack helicopters from Russia in a first military deal of its kind between them.