Russia is an old and reliable all-weather friend of India, and the only country that provided nuclear submarines to India
|By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd)
Former Director General of Information Systems, Indian Army
Signing of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) between India and the US has been a subject of intense debate in the media. Despite it being a logistic exchange agreement a cross-section opined that it amounted to a military alliance, India was putting all eggs into the American basket and that India needed to reset its relationship with Russia, which is misnomer.
India has strategic cooperation agreement with multiple countries including with Russia. By signing LEMOA, India has not upset its strategic cooperation with Russia in any manner. Russia is an old and reliable all-weather friend of India, and the only country that provided nuclear submarines to India. The two countries discussed a new $4-billion defence deal for four stealth frigates at the India-Russia Military Technical Cooperation Working Group (MTC-WG) meeting at New Delhi in early September wherein the Russian side submitted "a techno-commercial proposal" for the four multi-purpose frigates packed with sensors and weapons including the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles. As per the proposal two frigates will come from Russia and the other two will be constructed in India.
If the deal for the four new 4,000-tonne frigates is inked, they will add to the six Russian stealth frigates already inducted by India; 3 x Talwar class frigates inducted in 2003-04 and 3 x Teg class frigates inducted in 2011-15, latter having an operating range of 4,500 nautical miles and capability to handle threats in the air, surface and underwater. India is also constructing its own stealth warships, having inducted three 6,100-tonne Shivalik class frigates. Another 50,000-crore contract for construction of the seven Project 17A stealth frigates—four at the Mazagon Dock at Mumbai and three in GRSE at Kolkata—was inked in February 2015. Seven Project 17A frigates are among the 39 warships and six Scorpene submarines under construction in Indian shipyards for over 3,00,000 crore. The 4 x stealth frigates offered by Russia will help add to combat power of India that plans a 212 warship Navy by 2027.
India already operates a nuclear-powered Akula-II submarine christened INS Chakra, which was acquired on a 10-year lease from Russia in April 2012 under a $900-million deal. Russia has also offered its under-construction nuclear-powered aircraft carrier 'Storm' (Shtorm) and technologies associated with the project. Reportedly US has been unwilling to offer help to India in nuclear propulsion for its indigenous aircraft carrier programme. Indo-Russian relationship remains as strong as ever. The defence deals in the offing including the ones mentioned herein would make the partnership stronger and the next summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Putin will surely elevate it to the next level.