Newspaper report triggers diplomatic row, another portal denies India leased the Chakra, an Akula-class submarine, in 2012 for 10 years for almost $700 million. file photo
A Russian newspaper last night created a diplomatic row between India, Russia and the US. The matter was sorted out this morning when another Russian news website termed the information given out by the newspaper as incorrect and blamed French lobbyists for spreading misinformation.
Yesterday, Russian newspaper “Kommersant” reported on its website that the Indian Navy had allowed a US technical crew into top secret compartments of India’s existing Russian-built nuclear submarine, the INS Chakra.
The Kommersant referred to this as “an unprecedented scandal” and said the incident “threatened to seriously complicate negotiations (between India and Russia for another nuclear submarine)”.
The newspaper said it was a violation of the terms of the contract between India and Russia. India leased the Chakra, an Akula-class submarine, in 2012 for a period of 10 years for almost $700 million. The ownership of the vessel rests with the Russians.
Kommersant had cited US-based website ‘strategypage.com’ saying: “Moscow suspects that despite the leasing conditions prescribed in the contract, Delhi allowed representatives of the US Navy to the Chakra submarine, who got acquainted with its internal systems.”
Akula is globally regarded as top-of-the-line submarine.
Today, a Russian news portal, NEWS.ru, debunked the account of the Kommersant and blamed French lobbyists for spreading misinformation to further their own chances of selling a nuclear-powered attack submarine to India.
NEWS.ru quoted a source saying: “In addition to the contract for the construction of non-nuclear boats such the Scorpene (now being inducted by the Indian Navy,) the French have a great desire to enter the Indian nuclear fleet.”
Sources in India denied that a team of US submarine specialists visited the Chakra, believed to be based out of Vishakapatnam on the east coast. A Russian diplomat said that Russia and India were time-tested friends. “There are mechanisms to sort out such issues. Normally, between two friends you avoid doing things that the other dislikes. We are trying to ascertain facts though, have only read reports. But the matter, if true, will likely be taken up at the various mechanisms of military commissions or between the defence ministries.”