Indian defense minister Mulayam Singh Yadav said yesterday in New Delhi that the government had approved the purchase from Russia of two diesel-powered submarines and three frigates. Itar-Tass identified the submarines as Project 877 boats — the older KILO-class submarine already serving in the Indian Navy. Earlier reports suggested India was interested in the newer project 636 version. Two of these have already been sold to China. The three frigates were not identified by type. (Itar-Tass, October 22)
Noticeably missing from Yadav’s announcement was the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. This Kiev-class ship has been laid up in the Northern Fleet since 1993 and there have been persistent rumors that it would be sold to India. Indian officials have inspected it several times and when Yadav visited Moscow earlier this month it was said to be on his wish list. (Kommersant-daily, October 10) India urgently needs an aircraft carrier to replace an aging ship it bought from the British. At the same time, the Ukrainians can’t seem to get rid of a much newer carrier — the unfinished Varyag that was to be the sister ship of the Russian Navy’s Admiral Kuznetsov. The Varyag has been rusting in a Mikolayiv shipyard since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Recently the Ukrainian government issued a tender to sell the ship and some 40 private companies will apparently bid on it for its scrap value. (NTV, October 11) So while India needs a carrier and Ukraine has one to sell, apparently the two will not get together because of the long and close arms relationship between India and Russia — and a controversial Ukrainian deal to sell tanks to Pakistan.
Kuchma Attacks "Populist" Parliament.