Russia Sets Its Sights on Naval Reform
Russia may start construction of a new aircraft carrier by 2015, the Russian Navy commander said Monday. Presently, Russia has only one operational aircraft carrier, the Nikolai Kuznetsov, which was commissioned in the early 1990s and has recently re-entered service after a prolonged overhaul. "The ship [Kuznetsov] has been fully overhauled and will serve [in the Navy] for a long time, but not forever, which is why we are planning to design and build a new modern aircraft carrier," Admiral Vladimir Masorin said. According to the Navy chief, the Nikolai Kuznetsov is currently dexployed with Russia's Northern Fleet and is ready to host the assigned aircraft, which includes 12 Su-33 Flanker D naval fighters, five Su-25UBP combat trainers and over 20 helicopters. Masorin said the main characteristics of the new aircraft carrier would be outlined by the end of the year in order to expedite work on the ship. He also hinted about the future structure of the Russian Navy, saying that Russia currently had about 300 surface ships, but they were mainly missile corvettes, patrol boats and minesweepers. "We have an aircraft carrier, two nuclear-powered battle cruisers, three missile cruisers... strategic naval forces etc," Masorin said. "But if we mentioned aircraft carriers, we would want to maintain and use the capability that we already have for the time being." The Navy commander said that in 20 to 30 years, Russia would have the economic capacity to deploy an aircraft carrier group in the Northern Fleet and, potentially, a similar group in the Pacific Fleet. Russia is also set to build a new nuclear submarine base on the Kamchatka peninsula, Masorin told journalists. "In the next two to three years we will build a contemporary submarine base for the Pacific fleet forces," he was quoted by news agencies as saying. The base will feature new strategic submarines such as the Borei nuclear missile carrier. Some 9 billion rubles (about $350 million) have been set aside by the federal budget to fund the project. Each submarine will carry 12 Bulava ballistic missiles, each capable of launching 10 nuclear warheads within a distance of 8,000 kilometers. The admiral noted that Russia has 19 active submarines and ships patrolling the seas.
Russian strategic aircraft fire missiles in Arctic exercise
The Russian Air Force said Thursday a group of four strategic missile aircraft achieved their objectives in a major Navy and Air Force exercise off Russia's Arctic coast. "Four Tu-22M3 strategic missile aircraft made over 20 sorties, firing air-to-surface missiles and successfully hitting their targets in the Barents Sea," said Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky, an Air Force spokesman. He said the exercise involved only young pilots who had not earlier trained with live missiles. The spokesman highlighted increasing NATO air surveillance activity in the area. "Right now, we see two to three Orions, or Atlantics, or RS-135s, every day where we have normally detected only one such [surveillance] plane," Drobyshevsky said. The Defense Ministry told RIA Novosti that the exercise was ongoing, and said that information on Navy activities and broader results would be released soon. The Tu-22M3 (NATO codename Backfire-C) is a strategic aircraft carrying one to three Kh-22M (NATO codename Kitchen) air-to-surface missiles with a range of up to 500 km (over 300 miles).
Russian Navy chief says new Black Sea base complete by 2012
The construction of a new base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the port of Novorossiisk will be completed by 2012, the Navy Commander said Wednesday. President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in 2003 setting up an alternative naval base for the Black Sea Fleet in Novorossiisk after Ukraine demanded the base in Sevastopol be withdrawn by 2017. "In five years, we will finish the construction of breakwaters and piers," Russian Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Masorin said. "As a result, the base will be able to accommodate up to 100 ships of the Black Sea Fleet." Russia has allocated 12.3 billion rubles (about $480 million) for the construction of the new base between 2007 and 2012 under a targeted federal program. Masorin said three piers had been constructed and the work was underway on building breakwaters. The construction of other infrastructure at the base, including facilities for coastal troops, aviation and logistics units, will continue beyond 2012, the admiral said. Meanwhile, Ukrainian leadership has been pushing for the withdrawal of Russia's naval base in Sevastopol in Ukraine's Crimea Autonomy by 2017, in compliance with a previous bilateral agreement. "The Black Sea fleet must leave the Crimea by 2017. Period," the Ukrainian Defense Ministry quoted Anatoly Hrytsenko as saying in May. Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in 1997 stipulating that the Black Sea Fleet's main base in Sevastopol, on the Crimean Peninsula, be leased to Russia for 20 years, with the possibility of extending the term. The annual rent of about $100 million is deducted from Ukraine's debt for Russian energy supplies. In addition to the main base, the Black Sea Fleet maintains two airfields and a ship re-supply facility on the Crimean Peninsula. But Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said Tuesday that the current rent could be increased in the future. "Certainly, the rent for the Black Sea Fleet base in the Crimea will be changing because it is linked to other factors that determine the final amount," Yushchenko said in an interview with the Vremya Novostei newspaper.
Russia Threatens with Missile Deployment to Kaliningrad
The AFP has reported that Russia has threatened to deploy missiles into strategic locations if the European Union and the United Nations allows President Bush to follow through with his plan for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. Russia has stated that it will scrap this plan if their ideas for the system are followed through with. Currently, Russia is working on an early warning system to detect missiles that have been shot off from anywhere around Russia. It has also proposed that the United States uses a missile defense system that is being worked on in Russia. It is currently located near Iran, and could give the best indication of a pending attack from Iran. The Russians have stated that it would be their job to control it. To this point, President Bush has refused these offers and continues to push for a missile defense system to be placed in Eastern Europe. Vladimir Putin believes that the missile defense system could easily be used to attack Russia. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has issued a statement that Russia will deploy missiles to Kaliningrad if the plans continue to go through for the missile defense system. This will be done to protect Russia from any possible attack by the United States or any by European country. Kaliningrad the capital of Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian state that is located on the Baltic Sea. It is separated from Russia by Lithuania, Belarus, and Latvia. It is the location of a large part of the Russian navy. Poland is very worried about this proposition from Russia since Kaliningrad is only located a matter of miles from the Polish border. Poland believes that this is a threat that needs to be taken to heart. Russia has also made statements that if the missiles are sent to Kaliningrad, they may become pointed at key European cities and other targets to ensure the future safety of Russia. There are roughly seven capital cities that would be within the range of a midrange missile. There are many countries that believe that this is a bluff by the Russians. Since Kaliningrad is cut off from Russia, and surrounded by other countries, the missile site would be too soft of a target. There are other countries, though, that believe that it might be too late for some countries to attack the site if the missiles have already been fired. Currently, there has not been any answer from the White House about this potential threat from Russia. The White House may attempt to downplay these comments from Russia since Putin was just at the White House for an informal meeting with President Bush.
No Cold War if U.S. keeps out of Europe, vows Russia's Ivanov
Russia's deputy prime minister said Wednesday the media could "forget the term Cold War" if the U.S. agreed to Russia's latest missile defense proposal to use a base in Russia instead of Central Europe. "If the proposal [on a new radar in Russia] is accepted, we will have no reason to deploy more missiles in our European regions," including the Kaliningrad Region, a Russian exclave bordering on Lithuania and Poland, Sergei Ivanov told reporters. "After that I will request that journalists forget such terms like 'Cold War'," Ivanov said. President Vladimir Putin, during his recent two-day meeting with President George W. Bush at his father's house at Kennebunkport, Maine, proposed incorporating a new radar, currently being built in Southern Russia, into part of a missile defense system managed by the NATO-Russia Joint Permanent Council, of which Moscow and Washington are members. When asked whether Russia really could counteract the perceived threat from U.S. missile defense plans to deploy bases in Central Europe, Ivanov said: "We have found an asymmetric and appropriate response." Ivanov also said Russia was ready to upgrade its early warning radar in Gabala, Azerbaijan, which was also proposed as an alternative to U.S. missile plans, but America has repeatedly called it obsolete. Ivanov said the radar could be installed with state of the art equipment, "The technology is completely new, it is already in use with our Space Forces." All information from the new radar will be compatible with a "joint information system" aggregating antimissile data in two centers in Moscow and Brussels. The U.S. has said it wants to place a radar and a host of interceptor missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic to fend off what Washington sees as an impending missile threat from Iran and North Korea. Russia's future radar base is located near the town of Armavir, Krasnodar Territory - about 700 km (450 miles) to the northwest of the Iranian border and just about 100 km to the north of Sochi, the Russian alpine resort on the Black Sea, whose bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics will be decided tomorrow in Guatemala.