• Wednesday, Dec 07, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

India to give submarine to Myanmar, sends strong message to China

  • Published at 07:45 am October 16th, 2020
Kilo Class Type 636 INS Sindhurakshak. Soviet Kilo-Class submarines can sink just about anything Collected

The move comes as a part of India’s initiative to strengthen ties with Myanmar, according to political analysts

In an unprecedented move to provide military assistance to Myanmar, India is set to hand over INS Sindhuvir, a Kilo class attack submarine, to the Myanmar Navy. 

This will be the first submarine of Myanmar military, who are accused of systematic genocide against the minority ethnic Rohingya Muslim community.

Anurag Srivastava, a spokesman for India's Ministry of External Affairs, confirmed this matter to the reporters on Thursday.

Addressing the weekly press conference, Srivastava said this would be the first submarine to be owned Myanmar, corresponding with the overall Indian vision that aspires to guarantee security for all its maritime partners.

“In this context, India will be delivering a Kilo class submarine INS Sindhuvir to the Myanmar Navy. This is in accordance with our vision of SAGAR - Security and Growth for All in the Region - and also in line with our commitment to build capacities and self-reliance in all our neighbouring countries,” The Hindu quoted Srivastava as saying, while responding to a question.

The announcement came days after Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Indian Army chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane visited Myanmar and held discussions with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar military chief Min Aung Hlaing.

The submarine, purchased from the USSR in the 1980s, has undergone modernization at the Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) in Visakhapatnam, also known as Vizag.

The October 4-5 visit of Shringla and Naravane was also important as Myanmar and Bangladesh have recently engaged in a war of words over heightened military tension near the border at Chittagong regarding the Rohingya issue.

Not the first time

In recent times, there have been several high-level dialogues between India and Myanmar. Political analysts believe that the defence relationship between the two countries is getting stronger through this.

In 2019, Myanmar Armed Forces’ Commander-in-Chief General Min Aung Hlaing visited India to discuss overall defence issues.

The talks with the Myanmar general were aimed at enhancing defence cooperation, reviewing joint military exercises and training between the two countries.

At that time, political analysts said India may be providing submarines to Myanmar as part of its strategy to strengthen bilateral relations and increase Myanmar’s military capabilities.

The Indian media quoted The Diplomat as saying in their analysis that India did not comment when the military launched an ethnic cleansing operation in Myanmar. They did not express any concern about this issue. In that situation, millions of Rohingya Muslim refugees fled to Bangladesh.

Kilo Class Type 636 under construction | CollectedThis is not the first time that India has partnered with Myanmar on defence issues.

Earlier, New Delhi had provided naval sonars, acoustic drones and other military equipment to the country.

In July 2019, India delivered the first batch of Advanced Light Torpedo (TAL) “Shyena” to Myanmar, as part of an export deal worth $37.9 million between the countries inked in 2017.

What's behind the scene?

An analytical report by Indian media Business Standard has raised the issue of India's efforts to improve relations with Myanmar amid tensions over India's border with China.

The report cites China's resistance to aggression as India's biggest interest in cooperating with Myanmar.

Moreover, in 2016, Bangladesh bought two Type 035G Ming-class submarines from China for $203 million. Apart from that, Bangladesh currently has plans to set up a submarine base in Cox's Bazar in collaboration with China. In view of this, Myanmar feels the need to increase its naval capabilities.

On the other hand, India has been focusing on strengthening ties in the defence sector, including submarine deployments, aiming to curb Chinese influence in Myanmar.

Myanmar has 1,468km of land border with India. Several rebel groups along the Nagaland-Manipur border use Myanmar as a haven. 

The two countries’ border guards are working together to stop India's National Socialist Council of Nagaland, United Liberation Front of Asom, National Democratic Front of Boroland members and Myanmar's Arakan Army, Kachin's freedom fighters, taking extra security measures.

India has sought Myanmar's cooperation in the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project to deliver goods to Mizoram and the others northeastern states by sea. It will connect the Indian port of Kolkata with the port of Rakhine’s Sittwe. 

Under this project, India wants to implement several infrastructural developments in Myanmar.

On the other hand, China is the largest investor in Myanmar. According to statistics, China's investment in Myanmar has reached $18billion in the last 30 years.

Analysts say India is now focusing on building a rapprochement with Myanmar in the border region amid tensions with China. The two countries are competing on an equal footing to maintain their dominance in the region.

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