Russia’s Pacific Fleet comes calling at Colombo Port as China influence wanes

New Delhi, Oct 20: The Russian Navy has sent one warship and two submarines, which are part of its Pacific Fleet, to Sri Lanka. These include vessels–Corvette Gremyashchiy and submarines B– 603 and B–274.

The Gremyashchiy is a 107 metre long battleship while the submarines are 73 metres each.

The Sri Lankan navy welcomed the Russian vessels, which arrived for replenishments, at the Colombo harbour in accordance with naval traditions and in adherence to Covid-19 protocols, according to Sri Lankan newspaper Daily FT.

Colombo and Moscow are improving trade, defence and tourism ties. Reportedly, Sri Lanka plans to buy Su-30 fighter jets and armoured personnel carriers from Russia. The defence officials of the two countries met recently over enhancing military cooperation through training as well as participation in war games.

Sri Lanka is assuming an important role in South Asia with the navies of several countries making calls in quick succession. The country is also trying to distance itself from China, in an effort to decrease its reliance on one country.

The Russian Navy’s visit to Colombo comes soon after the Japanese Navy held exercises with the Sri Lankan navy. These exercises were preceded by Indian-Sri Lankan navy exercises in September.

The Russian military is increasingly asserting itself across the world through naval drills as well as army exercises.

Just a couple of days back Russian naval ships along with Chinese vessels had traversed through the Tsugaru Strait that cuts through Japan, setting off alarm bells in Tokyo. This was the first time that naval vessels from the two countries had sailed through the strait.

An alarmed Tokyo monitored the passage of the ships through surveillance aircraft as the flotilla of ten ships passed through the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido.

Japan also said that it is possible some of the Russian and Chinese ships might have been part of the joint naval exercise between the two countries. The Russian-Chinese navies had held the Sea Interaction 2021 exercise from October 14-17 in the Sea of Japan.

Similarly, Russia has been holding military games repeatedly with Central Asian countries in response to changes taking place in Afghanistan to deter the Taliban from disturbing its allies. Russia, along with members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO)–Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Tajikistan–are holding exercises on the border with Afghanistan.

Russia and Sri Lanka are both reaching out to each other keeping in mind the Chinese presence in the region.

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