PUTIN EYES RUSSIAN STRENGTH IN ATLANTIC AND ARCTIC IN NEW NAVAL DOCTRINE

The Telegraph, London, on July 27, 2015, reported that Russia will guarantee a permanent naval presence in the Mediterranean and boost its strength in the Atlantic and Arctic under a new strategy to counter “unacceptable” Nato expansion. Excerpts below:

The plans, which also include ambitious ship-building targets and expansion of infrastructure for the country’s fleet in the Black Sea, were laid out in a new naval doctrine approved by Vladimir Putin.

Dmitry Rogozin, the deputy prime minister with a portfolio for defense, emphasized the “accent put on the Atlantic and the Arctic” in a meeting with Mr Putin. Mr Rogozin, a strong critic of Nato, said that the new doctrine reflects “changes in the international political situation and the objective strengthening of Russia as a great naval power.”

“Our attention towards the Atlantic is justified by the expansion of Nato in the east,” he told Russian news agencies.

The 46-page document, published on the Kremlin website, lays out a comprehensive vision for civilian and military maritime strategy in coming years, including maintenance of sea-trade routes and management of fisheries.

But its military section openly identifies Western militaries as the primary potential adversary facing the Russian navy.

“The determining factor in relations with Nato remains the alliance’s unacceptable plans to move military infrastructure towards the Russian Federation’s borders and attempts to assume global functions,” the document says.

It goes on to call for reinforcement of Russia’s naval presence in the North Atlantic and maintenance of a naval presence “on a permanent basis” in the Mediterranean.

The doctrine also makes special mention of the Arctic and Antarctic, calling for expansion of Russia’s Northern Fleet to protect claims to natural resources on the Arctic shelf and secure the northern sea route between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

Russia is planning to build a new fleet of nuclear-powered ice breakers to support Arctic development.

It comes six months after Mr Putin approved a revised military doctrine in response to the rapid deterioration of relations with the West following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The annexation of Crimea sparked the worst crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War and preceded the eruption of a war between Russian-backed separatists and government troops in eastern Ukraine.

In January, Nato announced the creation of six command centres in eastern member states as part of a response to what it called “Russian aggression” in Ukraine.

“These changes show that Russia pays particular attention to the reinforcement of its naval potential in the Arctic and the Atlantic to counter NATO,” military expert Alexander Golts said.

But “without a decisive reinforcement of the fleet’s capacities, all of these make no sense,” he added.

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