India has ordered a review of its submarines' weapons safety systems, after initial investigations showed arms on board the INS Sindhurakshak may have played a role in its sinking. Uday C. Bhaskar, an ex-commodore of the Indian Navy, Defense analyst and a fellow at the Society for Policy Studies, talked with the Voice of Russia about the incident and its impact on Russian-Indian defense cooperation.
- What do you think about the whole thing and it possible impact on the future of our defense cooperation?
- The accident that took place on the INS Sindhurakshak last week is indeed a very major tragedy for the Indian navy and submarine in particular. At this point as you know naval divers are trying very hard to see how they can salvage the submarine board. My reading is that at this stage the navy wants to make an assessment on its own before either inviting or accepting the assistance that is being offered by other people, Russians and some international agencies, they offered that they could provide some expert salvage assistance.
- I can understand the Indian hesitation at this point because as you know the submarine that has been damaged in this particular manner is first of all a tremendous shock and setback and because it is a submarine, there is what I would call a natural dimension. With Russia India has a very special relationship because not only has this submarine come from Russia but even when Russia was the former Soviet Union, we’ve got our first submarine in December 1967, the board called the INS Calvary. So, there is no doubt about this that Moscow has a very special relationship with New Delhi particularly as far as the defense and military sector is concerned.
- Now immediately I would not over-interpret the fact that India has said that we would like to conduct the investigation on our own and my reading as Indian are able to salvage the submarine, perhaps take it to another location and when they carry out the investigation, the more detail, technical investigation, I am sure that there is a need, India would look at whatever expertise is provided.
- So, at this stage it is very early in terms of salvage. And I think I don’t speak for the government, I am just a private analyst. But I am saying that Russia is also aware, we have received expression of sympathy and grief from many Russian colleagues and I think that is very deeply appreciated. But at this stage I think my reading is that Indian navy wants to proceed slowly, carefully, and once there is a need whatever be the nature of the assistance or the expertise that India needs, I am sure it will be accepted in the most appropriate manner.
- What is your opinion about the present day defense cooperation between Russia and India, and its future? Is it important for India?
- I would say it is very important for India and I am presuming it is also important for Russia because I remember the relationship during the cold war years, I had the privilege of also being in a meeting when Admiral Gorshkov was present when Mr.Venkataraman was our former President. So I’ve personally seen this relationship and I still make the point that for New Delhi Moscow is a very special relationship. But whether it is the nuclear submarine, whether it’s the aircraft carrier, whether it’s the conventional submarine Russia still remains the most credible and visible partner for India. We’ve had a very robust relashions with Russia. They are valued. And we are looking for “Akula” class Russian submarines.
Voice of Russia, Aug 20, 2013