New Delhi: Amid rising tensions over Ukraine, the US and Russia will participate in India’s biggest-ever maritime exercise to be held later this month.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said both Russia and the US have confirmed their participation in ‘Milan 2022’, to be held from 26 February to 4 March. However, it is yet not clear if both countries will be sending in their ships or will be participating with naval representatives.

Sources said the finer details are still being worked out, adding that a total of 46 countries have been invited, out of which over 35 have confirmed participation and the rest have responded “positively”.

‘Milan’ (literally, meeting) is a biennial multilateral naval exercise hosted by the Indian Navy. For the first time, the exercise is being held in Visakhapatnam instead of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, where it has been held since 1995.

Change In Venue Due To Scale of Exercise

Sources explained that Visakhapatnam has been chosen as the venue this year because of the scale of the exercise, adding that more ships will be participating, which meant that more anchorage space as well as wider sea is needed for exercise.

The sources also said this year’s exercise will see the participation of frigates and destroyers, unlike the earlier editions, which saw the participation of mainly long-range patrol ships and similar classes.

They said the complexity of the exercise is also been increased, which will see the participating countries being divided into multiple groups.

The theme of the Milan exercise is ‘Camaraderie–Cohesion–Collaboration’, which aims to promote collective responsibilities of maritime security for ensuring safe and secure seas.

“The aim of the exercise is to hone operational skills, imbibe best practices and procedures and enable doctrinal learning in the maritime domain through professional interaction between friendly navies”, the sources said.