New Delhi: Soviet-era aircraft carrier
Admiral Gorshkov had always been a major irritant in Indo-
Russian relations after it was marred by a series of price
disputes and delayed deliveries.
The legendary Soviet Navy Commander-in-Chief of the
Cold War era and a friend of India after whom the carrier has
been named would not have thought that the eponymously named
aircraft carrier would become a "festering sore" in
otherwise warm bilateral relations.
As the two sides haggled for almost three years over
the Russian demand for a price over three times higher than
what it was bought for by India, the former National Security
Adviser M K Narayanan, while accompanying Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh to Moscow last December, admitted that the
Admiral Gorshkov was becoming a "festering sore.
Finally, the two nations have now decided to finalise
the fresh price for the carrier at USD 2.35 billion, with the
Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) giving its approval to the
renegotiated cost on Wednesday.
The Kiev class aircraft carrier is now scheduled for
delivery to India by 2013 to add teeth to its Navy.
The Indian Navy had grown into a blue water force
coinciding with the years the Admiral, who had sent his
submarines during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War to the
Indian waters to keep a watch over US warships that came into
assist Pakistan, was at the helm of the Soviet Navy.
The deal for the 45,000-tonne warship had been signed in
January 2004 at USD 974 million along with 16 MiG-29K naval
fighters for USD 526 million and the warship was sent to the
Russian Sevmash shipyard for its repair and refit.
However, the original delivery schedule of December 2008
went for a toss after the shipyard made a startling claim of
an additional USD 1.5 billion for the refit project and went
slow on the work in 2007 and hiked it again to USD 2.2 billion