Russian Naval Modernization and Strategy - Newest Ships and Submarines Fielding Significant Offensive Capability, Black Sea Fleet Improvements Focused on NATO as Adversary, Future of Russian Navy
By: U.S. Government, U.S. Military, Department of Defense (DoD), Jonathan Evitts
Publication Date: 2019-06-11
Number of pages: 106
Russia's maritime development focuses on support of land forces and protection of its coastal territory. Its naval strategy has not changed greatly from the Soviet era. The fleet is greatly reduced in size and will likely continue to decrease as older ships decommission. The fleet's newest ships and submarines field significant offensive capability on relatively small platforms. Russia's poor economic situation and corruption throughout the Ministry of Defense and shipbuilding industry will hinder the construction and maintenance of ships. A reduced military budget will further inhibit maritime development. The Northern and Pacific Fleets continue to be home to Russia's strategic forces. The Black Sea Fleet is receiving the greatest improvements as Russia seeks to increase its presence in the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East. Moscow considers NATO its primary adversary and will likely focus its reduced budget on improving its land and air forces instead of continuing large-scale naval development. This thesis uses analysis of Russian policy documents and Moscow's corresponding actions, fleet composition of the Russian Federation Navy, and the economic status of Russia to provide insight into Russian naval strategy and outlook.This compilation includes a reproduction of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.Western states and Russia are often antagonistic toward each other. Russia, at the eastern edge of Europe, frequently has adopted a posture of defensive expansionism in that it seeks to create a buffer-zone between itself and perceived aggressor states. During the Soviet period, the buffer zone was the Soviet Republics surrounding Russia's borders; following the collapse of the Soviet Union, it remains, primarily, the former Soviet Republics. Moscow sees the West as both a model to follow on a path to modernity and the aggressor against Russian power. Russia oscillates between those concepts, and its policies regarding the West are inconsistent, particularly since the collapse of the Soviet Union. At the beginning of Russia's modern history, at its weakest point, Russia attempted to become democratic, which might have led to modernization of its society and economy. That, however, did not happen. Instead, Russia reverted to a quasi-democracy becoming far more assertive and outspoken against Western unilateral actions as Russia's economy strengthened under Putin. Russia's navy has not, since the end of the Soviet Union, been a significant factor in global politics or on the world's oceans. Russia's naval fleet sat in disrepair for decades. Keels laid for construction sat unfinished due to lack of funds or initiative to finish the ships. Surface ships and submarines sat pier-side with limited funding and crews to sail them for strategic or training purposes. That is slowly changing. Moscow instituted new maritime policy, began and completed not only new construction, but new ship designs with updated technology, improved its ballistic missile submarine capability and added new aircraft to the naval aviation fleet. Why has Moscow decided to upgrade the fleet after years of disrepair and neglect, and what is the intent for its resurgent navy?
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