‘Chakra’ opened to 3rd eyes: India reportedly allowed US Navy to visit Russian sub

An unprecedented scandal is unfolding between Russia and India, with Moscow suspecting that New Delhi granted US Navy personnel access to INS ‘Chakra’, a Russian nuclear-powdered attack submarine operated by the Indian Navy since 2011.

The incident threatens to jeopardize talks on the lease of a second nuclear submarine, and on other projects in the field of military cooperation between the two countries, Russia’s Kommersant daily reported on Wednesday.

Several sources in the Russian state agencies told the newspaper that their Indian partners had recently committed several “unfriendly acts towards Russia.” First, a US Navy delegation had visited the aircraft carrier ‘Vikramaditya’ (property of the Indian Navy), with Russian officials forced to issue a note of protest. Sometime later, a US delegation came aboard the ‘Chakra’, according to a high-ranking military source.

The source, working in the military cooperation system, called the fact that the US Navy personnel had paid a visit to a Russian submarine outrageous. The sub is stationed on the base near ‘Vishakhapatnam’, pending repairs.

“There were well-trained technical specialists among them, so they got hold of some of the information anyway,” the source said, adding that this “string of incidents” may have a negative impact on defense cooperation between the two countries, which has been successfully developing over the past five years.

The Indian Navy commissioned the ‘Chakra’ (originally called the ‘Nerpa’) in 2012, and paid around $1 billion to lease the submarine for a 10-year period, according to Indian Defense News.

India remained the world’s biggest arms importer over the past five years, SIPRI reported in February. Russia has been the main arms supplier to both China and India.  

Moscow is now reportedly preparing retaliatory measures against its Indian partners, the sources say, also referring to “a lot of questions” and “difficult talks” ahead. The incident could affect negotiations on leasing the second nuclear submarine which the Indian Navy planned to obtain from Russia.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is due to visit India next month, has reportedly been tasked with sorting out the ‘Chakra’ issue. He is also set to negotiate the creation of a fifth-generation fighter jet under an agreement signed back in 2007, which so far has seen neither the aircraft’s concept nor its financial parameters developed.