A recent freedom of navigation exercise conducted by the US Navy on the coast of India has strained the US-Indian military relationship, as the US did not provide India with forewarning.
A US naval destroyer sailed into India’s exclusive economic zone without prior warning earlier this month, raising questions regarding the current state of US-Indian strategic relationships. The move, which reportedly “embarrassed” the Indian government has spurred many commentators to reanalyse US-Indian relations, and the impact that such an activity would have on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.
Sarosh Bana, editor at Business India and APAC editor for Naval Forces, writing in ASPI’s The Strategist this week outlined that following the destroyer’s incursion, the Commander of the US 7th Fleet released a statement regarding the mission outlining that “this freedom of navigation operation (‘FONOP’) upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognised in international law by challenging India’s excessive maritime claims”.
With the US having regarded India’s exclusive economic zone as “excessive”, Bana questioned whether this recent event will set back US-Indian relationships following close ties between former US president Donald Trump and the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. According to Bana’s analysis, the US fleet’s publicly released statement was curt in tone.