Amid unprecedented tensions between Russia and the West, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin has enacted a new military doctrine for the country’s naval forces. Russia’s maritime boundaries, including in the Arctic and the Black Sea, were also defined there. “We will ensure protection by all means and by all means,” the Kremlin chief stressed at a parade of warships on Sunday to mark Navy Day in his hometown of St. Petersburg.
Above all, the US and NATO are mentioned as threats to Russia’s security. The naval doctrine, renewed for the first time since 2015, is also a declaration of war on the West.
The new doctrine claimed that the US quest for dominance of the world’s oceans was a “challenge to Russia’s national security”, according to Russian news agency Interfax. The aim is to prevent the US from restricting Russia’s access to deep-sea mineral resources in the world’s oceans – or shipping lanes. In the Arctic, Russia claims, among other things, the suspect gas there, but also other resources.
Nuclear power now wants to be more active in the Arctic region, where other residents have also made claims. The new doctrine expressly emphasizes that Russia can use military force to assert its interests on the high seas, once all attempts to resolve the conflict through diplomatic channels have been exhausted. In the event of war, civilian ships should also be able to be integrated into naval forces.
The relocation of NATO countries’ military infrastructure to Russian borders and the territorial claims of a “series of states” that would affect the maritime regions and islands of the giant empire were also pointed out as dangers. Japan, for example, is demanding the return of the South Kuril Islands in the Pacific.
Expansion of naval bases outside Russia
According to the document, the presence of a “sufficient number” of naval bases outside Russia’s borders must be expanded. A parade of ships was also planned for Sunday in the Syrian port city of Tartus, where the Russian fleet is stationed. Last but not least, the doctrine provides for the construction of modern aircraft carriers – regardless of Western sanctions against shipyards.
The document, which Putin ceremoniously signed, also provides for an expansion of military infrastructure on the Crimean Black Sea peninsula, which was annexed in 2014. The Russian Black Sea Fleet must be strengthened, he said.
Crimea as a military base
Ukraine, to which Crimea belongs under international law, has complained for years that Putin is turning the holiday island into a major military base, thereby deterring tourists. The Crimean metropolis of Sevastopol canceled all celebrations of Navy Day, which is traditionally celebrated in Russia, on Sunday morning. Governor Mikhail Rasvozhayev justified this by saying that the Black Sea Fleet headquarters had been attacked with a drone. Six people were injured. The Ukrainian Navy denied this.
In reality, the Russians did not dare to hold the commemorations as planned for fear of Ukrainian attacks, according to a statement posted on Facebook. “And in order not to embarrass himself in front of the whole world because he (the enemy) fears Ukraine’s armed forces, he invented a reason to cancel the events.”
The Russian side said the drone hit the headquarters yard. Governor Rasvozhayev showed photos of destruction. “Early this morning, Ukrainian nationalists decided to spoil our Navy Day,” wrote Rasvozhayev. This information could not be independently verified. Since the Russian war of aggression began a good five months ago, Russian authorities in regions bordering Ukraine have repeatedly complained of attacks from the neighboring country.
In St. Petersburg, Kremlin chief Putin did not participate in the Sevastopol attack or directly in the war. Before his speech, the 69-year-old inspected the parade on a boat during a trip from Kronstadt to St. Petersburg under overcast skies and intermittent rain. He announced in the city on the Gulf of Finland that the new hypersonic naval missile “Zirkon” would soon enter service. Delivery of the missiles will begin in the coming months, with the frigate “Admiral Gorshkov” being the first to be equipped with them.
Putin also said that there were no obstacles for the new hypersonic weapon “Zirkon” for naval forces. Its entry into service in 2021 was announced for early this year following reports of successful testing. Hypersonic weapons have a multiple of the speed of sound of about 343 meters per second. They are a reaction to NATO, Putin said last year. Where exactly they will be put into service must be determined according to Russia’s national interests, he said.