NEW DELHI: Indian Navy did not participate in the two-day maritime exercise of Iran and Russia in the Indian Ocean Region, said the Indian Navy on Thursday. The naval exercise of Iran and Russia known as Iran-Russia Maritime Security Belt 2021 started on February 16.

"Reports that Indian Navy is participating in the drill are incorrect. We never joined the exercise," the Indian Navy said.

Two days ago in Tehran, Admiral Gholamreza Tahani, the spokesperson of the drill, had made an announcement that the Indian Navy had also requested and joined the exercise with a select group of vessels.

Admiral Tahani had also stated that the exercise with Russia is so flexible that not only one other country, but several others could join in later if they wish to do so.

The naval exercise took place in the northern part of the Indian Ocean. The drill covered an area of 17,000 sq km. It included the air targets, shooting at sea, liberating the hijacked ships, as well as the rescue and search and anti-piracy operations.

In 2019, Iran, Russia and China held similar naval exercise. Two days ago in Tehran, Iran's Navy Chief Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi hailed India as one of the powerful naval forces in the region and stated that Indian Navy is joining the exercise.

Khanzadi also said that China, which took part in a joint naval exercise with Iran and Russia in December 2019, will join the manoeuvres after Chinese New Year's celebrations.

The Iran Navy Chief made the statement even as India and China have been engaged in a 10-month-long standoff at borders.

Further growing military cooperation between Iran and Russia comes at a sensitive time with Tehran and Washington locked in a stalemate. Tensions between the two countries continue to simmer with both sides beefing up military presence in the Persian Gulf.