Peter the Great is the largest non-aircraft-carrier in the world and carries a large number of missiles capable of being armed with nuclear bombs. But the Kirov class battle cruiser has had a controversial past with the Russian Navy Chief Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov claiming in 2004 that the massive cruiser had been badly maintained and could “explode any moment”. Kuroyedov had said, “It’s especially dangerous because it has a nuclear reactor. Everything is all right on the ship where admirals walk, but in the areas where they don’t, everything is in such condition that it may blow up at any moment.”
The Russian Akula-class submarine “Nerpa” also suffered an accident during sea trials in the Sea of Japan last November, killing 20 sailors and injuring 21 others, when a fire suppression system discharged gas in the bow of the sub, suffocating civilian specialists and navy crew members. The submarine was to have been leased to the Indian Navy this year for ten years and named INS Chakra to familiarize Indian crews in operating such a vessel.
Commodore Bhaskar thinks this exercise also gives India a chance to see how well the Russians are dealing with their technical problems “The Russian navy has been in the process of resurrecting itself and over the past ten years has worked to overcome the many technical problems that have plagued its assets. This exercise will give us a way to assess the competency of the Russian naval dockyards and how well they are managing to solve these problems, especially in light of the existing planned procurement of naval equipment and platforms by India from Russia.” India’s purchase of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier and its air element has been hanging for several years now over disagreement over refits cost escalations. The Russians, who had earlier agreed to the deal for US $ 1.5 billion now want an additional US $ 2 billion for project.
Commodore Bhaskar also points out the extended voyage of Peter the Great from the Caribbean Sea to the Arabian Sea is also ‘The Russian Navy trying to project itself’ and displaying its ‘credibility’ as a naval contender. The Russian economic resurgence under President and now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has also lead to a flexing of Russian military muscle. Putin as president had ordered the restart of long-range nuclear bomber patrols that had been suspended since the collapse of the Soviet Union and recently, the Russian Navy sent a detachment to Venezuela led by Peter the Great for joint exercises in the Caribbean Sea. The warship is currently in anchor off the coast of South Africa, to resupply and dock at Cape Town.