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The fate of India’s highly anticipated Akula-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, Chakra-3, hangs in the balance as Russia grapples with delivery delays and India navigates complex financial hurdles. Despite assurances from Russia during External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s recent visit, the path towards acquiring this crucial underwater asset remains shrouded in uncertainty.

In 2019, India inked a $3 billion deal with Russia to lease an Akula-class submarine for a decade. This advanced acquisition, known as Chakra-3, was slated to bolster India’s maritime prowess and deter regional adversaries.

However, the road to acquiring Chakra-3 has been riddled with obstacles. The initial delivery deadline of 2025 seems increasingly unlikely, with Russia citing operational complexities and the ongoing overhaul of the decommissioned K-322 Kashalot, the submarine slated to become Chakra-3.

Adding to the conundrum is the issue of financing. Western sanctions on Russia’s financial system have hampered India’s ability to make the necessary payments. While Jaishankar’s visit yielded assurances of exploring alternative payment mechanisms, it remains unclear whether India has managed to fulfil its financial obligations under the original deal.

The acquisition of Chakra-3 is further complicated by the evolving geopolitical landscape. The ongoing war in Ukraine has strained relations between Russia and the West, casting a shadow over India’s close ties with both sides. India’s balancing act between its strategic partnership with Russia and its deepening security ties with the United States adds another layer of uncertainty to the submarine deal.

The fate of Chakra-3 remains in flux. While Russia’s assurances offer a glimmer of hope, the financial and geopolitical roadblocks cannot be ignored. The success of this critical acquisition hinges on India’s ability to navigate these challenges effectively, ensuring timely delivery and integrating this formidable asset into its maritime arsenal.

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