Russian-made warships to join Indian Navy, bypassing sanctions
Russian-made warships to join Indian Navy, bypassing sanctions

India is set to receive two Russian-made warships in the coming months despite US sanctions posing challenges in payment for Russian weaponry, according to senior Indian officials.

Scheduled for delivery, one ship is expected to be handed over to India in September, with the second following in early next year. However, officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed that the delivery schedule has been delayed by two years due to the conflict in Ukraine.

These two frigates are part of a larger deal involving four ships signed between India and Russia in 2018. While two ships are being constructed in India in collaboration with Russia, they too have faced delays due to disruptions in the supply chain linked to the conflict, the officials disclosed.

The frigates, equipped with stealth features, were initially intended to incorporate gas turbines manufactured in Ukraine. However, trade between Ukraine and Russia ceased in 2014 following Russia's annexation of Crimea. Consequently, India sourced the turbines via a third-party country, the officials stated.

Sanctions imposed by the US on Russia over its actions in Ukraine had hindered weapons delivery to India for more than a year. Both nations grappled to establish a payment mechanism compliant with US sanctions. Nonetheless, India and Russia, known strategic allies, managed to navigate around the payment issues, the officials added, refraining from divulging specifics.

When contacted for comments, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Indian Navy, and the Ministry of Defence declined to provide any statement.

India has devised a payment method wherein Moscow is paid in Indian rupees for weapons procurement. However, payments for crude oil, primarily purchased from Russia, are conducted using a blend of currencies such as UAE dirhams and US dollars. Despite briefly encountering issues due to the accumulation of payments worth billions of dollars within India, New Delhi opted against settling in Chinese yuan owing to strained relations with Beijing, according to the officials.

Despite India's increased procurement of weaponry from the US and France and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiative to bolster domestic military production, Russia remains the largest supplier of military hardware to India, accounting for 36% of the nation's arms imports, as reported by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

SIPRI's recent report highlights a significant shift, marking the first instance in six decades where Russia's share of India's weapons imports dropped below half. Nonetheless, the US has refrained from penalizing India for its engagements with Russia, even holding back on penalties concerning an advanced air defense system, as it seeks to strengthen ties with India amidst escalating competition with China.

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