A week-long multinational naval exercise hosted by Pakistan is beginning in the Arabian Sea on Friday.
With the participation of some 45 countries, including the US, Russia, China, and Turkey, the drill – a biannual affair since 2007 – began with a flag-raising ceremony.
Significantly, this is the first time Russia has joined a military drill with NATO members in a decade. The last such time was in 2011, in the Bold Monarch 2011 exercise off the coast of Spain.
Organized under the slogan, “Together for Peace,” Pakistan’s Navy says the exercise is aimed at “fostering international cooperation to fight piracy, terrorism, and other crimes” which pose a threat to maritime security and stability.
Regional countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia as well as African Union countries are taking part with their "surface and air assets" and maritime teams, according to Pakistan’s Navy.
Addressing an opening ceremony, Rear Adm. Naveed Ashraf, the commander of the Pakistan Fleet, said the drill will help meet maritime challenges and ensure a secure maritime environment in the Indian Ocean.