South Asia and Beyond

Nuclear Powered Submarines: Sanctions & Possibility Of A Shift Away From Russian Platforms?

NEW DELHI: On ‘Talking Point‘, Ambassador Pankaj Saran, India’s Deputy National Security Advisor from May 2018 to December 31, 2021 and Envoy to Russia(2016-18) says “it’s premature to pronounce on the big issue” of an AUKUS-like situation and India diversifying away from Russia for nuclear-powered submarines. “The billions of dollars they cost, the historical cooperation with Russia, the 10-15 year gestation periods and complexity of technology” make these ” rigid platforms, not amenable to easy shifts and changes, he tells StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi, adding “we have to see what kind of sanctions are put in place” post Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and “decisions have to bear the test of whether it advances our national security or not.”

Watch the complete discussion here(


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Q: As big a deal as the S-400s with the Russians has been the SSN attack nuclear powered submarines. Do you visualize a scenario where an AUKUS-like situation could emerge for India in terms of diversifying(from Russia), whether it’s with the Americans or the French?

It’s very premature to pronounce on this issue, because it’s a big issue. And as you know, each submarine costs billions and billions of dollars. So it’s not so simple. Also, the history of our cooperation with Russia has to be taken into account because if you shift away to another design and other platform, a lot of work has to go into it. And typically, these projects take years and years to materialise. So even if you were to take a decision today, you might have something coming concretely to you maybe in the next 10 or 15 years. So the gestation period, and the scale of the platform and the complexity of technology do not make it amenable to very easy shifts and changes. So there is a certain amount of I would say, rigidity about some of these platforms. So we will see what kind of sanctions are put in place. And and you know, frankly, at the end of the day, whatever decision we take, unfortunately, or fortunately, has to bear the test of whether it advances our national security or not.