INDIA has signed a £2.29 billion ($3bn) deal to lease a third Russian nuclear-powered submarine for 10 years, giving Delhi a boost in the Indian Ocean, media reports said.
The deal which according to the reports took months to negotiate comes as tensions run high between India and Pakistan following their biggest standoff in years, and as Chinese influence grows in the region.
A defence ministry spokesman declined to confirm the agreement but the reports said that the submarine, the third India has leased from Russia, would be delivered by 2025.
Russia, India’s cold war ally, remains a major supplier of arms to India, irking the US which has imposed sanctions on nations buying military hardware from Moscow.
Last October Russian president Vladimir Putin and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi met and inked a deal for Delhi to buy Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missile defence system for £3.97bn ($5.2bn).
But India also shares the US fears about China’s growing assertiveness in the Indian Ocean, where New Delhi has traditionally held sway.
In 2017 India and China had a military standoff over a Himalayan plateau claimed by both Beijing and Bhutan, a close ally of India.