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US Navy trains alongside Russian & Iranian ships at India's Milan 2024 exercise.

| Naval News Navy 2024

The 12th edition of the MILAN naval exercise hosted in Visakhapatnam from February 19 to 27, 2024, is not just a routine gathering of naval forces but a significant diplomatic event, underlining India's growing influence on the global stage.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS Halsey.(Picture source: Indian MoD)

In an unprecedented move, naval ships from the United States, Iran, and Russia are participating in the exercise, despite the ongoing tensions and proxy conflicts among these nations, including the US's involvement in Ukraine and its opposition to Iran's support for the Houthis in the Red Sea.

The participation of the USS Halsey from the United States, the IRIS Dena from Iran, and the Slava class cruiser Varyag from Russia, alongside other international fleets, signals a nuanced layer of diplomatic engagement.

These nations, known for their strained relations and conflicting interests in various global arenas, have set aside their differences to partake in this Indian-led naval exercise. This scenario underscores the respect and diplomatic weight India holds, as these countries choose engagement in MILAN over the potential diplomatic fallout of non-participation.

India's role as a host and mediator in this context is crucial. By facilitating a platform where naval forces from countries with adversarial relationships come together for a common purpose, India showcases its capability to bridge divides and encourage dialogue and cooperation on neutral grounds.

This development highlights the strategic importance of India in the current geopolitical landscape, where its influence is capable of bringing together nations that are otherwise in conflict.

The MILAN exercise, therefore, transcends its primary objective of enhancing maritime security and safety of maritime commerce. It also serves as a testament to India's diplomatic prowess and its unique position as a country capable of navigating complex international relationships.

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