Russian Navy Sails For Cuba
Russian warships at U.S. borders: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__qs_CAKjUw
Warships from Russia’s Northern Fleet are on their way to Cuba for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. A unit led by the Destroyer Admiral Chabanenko will moor in Havana on December 19 and stay there for at least four days. According to an aide to Russian Navy commander Captain Igor Dygalo, the visit "will be a significant practical step in strengthening and developing ties between the navies of the two countries”. It is expected the fleet's commanding officers will meet with the head of the Cuban Navy and Havana’s mayor and local residents will be allowed to visit Russian ships. The task force, which includes support the vessels Ivan Bubnov and SB-406, left Nicaragua on Monday. Earlier, the ships took part in joint exercises with Venezuela and visited Panama. The nuclear-powered cruiser Peter the Great, the submarine-hunting destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and support ships arrived in Venezuela in November for naval exercise dubbed ‘Venrus 2008’ in the Caribbean. The operation was widely seen as Moscow’s response to Washington’s decision to deliver aid to Georgia aboard warships following the country's conflict with Russia in August this year. Soviet ships and planes regularly visited Cuba during the Cold War, but Russian troops have been absent in the region since the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.
A military Doctrine For Every Occasion
In 2009, Russia's armed forces will get a new military doctrine meeting present-day realities as defined by national security and foreign policy interests. A military doctrine is a set of principles defining the objectives of military planning, preparations for war, and the ways and means of warfare. These principles depend on the political system, form of government, economic and technological development, and the perception of its authors on what to anticipate from an expected war. The last Soviet doctrine was adopted in 1987 and was defensive in nature. It dropped the term "potential enemy" and confirmed its earlier commitment not to be the first to launch hostilities or use nuclear weapons. Soon after the adoption of this doctrine, the Soviet Union collapsed. Russia, which succeeded it, faced the need to redefine its place in the world and produce a new military doctrine.
In its 1993 doctrine, Russia repeated that it had no potential enemies and undertook not to use military force save for self-defense. Nuclear weapons came to be seen not as a fighting tool but as a political deterrent. Reasonable sufficiency became the principle underlying military potential: it was to be maintained at a level that would meet an existing threat. Further developments, however, forced the military to change some provisions of the doctrine. It was declared, for example, that along with ordinary weapons, nuclear weapons could be used to repulse an act of aggression. According to the doctrine, regional and local wars are today most likely, while a large-scale global war, including a nuclear war, is less probable. The experience of the past years and the expected course of events, however, suggest that although local and regional wars are indeed most probable, new destabilizing factors, such as destruction of nuclear missile parity, have appeared, making the option of a large-scale war more likely. For example, a U.S. missile defense shield, which, with military arsenals being cut, could deliver an unpunished first strike with little or no damage from a retaliatory attack.
It is to be hoped that Russia's new military doctrine, while emphasizing local and regional conflicts, will not loose focus on a large-scale nuclear conflict as probable in the current destabilized setting and include the missile defense system among external threats. In view of these factors, maintaining Russia's nuclear potential and its retaliation capability will be one of the main goals in guaranteeing its military security. To do so, it is necessary to have top-class armed forces able to fight in every environment and engage targets at any distance. Russia should also have a capability for taking part in peacekeeping operations and in local and regional conflicts, whose likelihood is only growing as events of the last few years have shown. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
Russian Military Confirms 13 Strategic Missile Launches For 2009
Russia's Strategic Missile Forces plan 13 training missile launches for next year, the forces commander Col.-Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov said Wednesday. "We have scheduled 13 training launches for 2009. The number could come down a bit," he said. The commander said last month that the forces were planning to conduct at least 13 launches of ballistic missiles next year. "We are planning to carry out 13 launches in 2009: five test launches of new missiles, three launches to confirm the extension of missiles' service lives, and five launches of converted SS-18 Satan ICBMs under the Dnepr program to orbit various satellites," Solovtsov said in November. The Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) conducted seven launches of ballistic missiles in 2008 and postponed two launches until next year. Solovtsov also said in November that the SMF would put into service in 2009 systems equipped with new-generation RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missiles, bearing multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads. Russia carried out a third successful test of the RS-24 on November 26. According to open sources, the total arsenal of Russia's SMF comprises 536 ICBMs, including 306 SS-25 Topol (Sickle) missiles and 54 SS-27 Topol-M (Stalin) missiles.
U.S. "to Set up Bases" in Central Asia
The U.S. is planning to set up military bases in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, according to Russia's head of the General Staff. He said Washington already has forces in Bulgaria and Romania that can become operational within hours, raising concern in Moscow. Speaking at the Academy of Military Science, General Nikolay Makarov also pointed out that the U.S. is prompting Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO. "In this situation, it is clear that Russia is concerned by the deployment near its borders of NATO's advanced forces and bases ready to start combat operations within hours.” The chief of the General Staff also cited U.S. president-elect Barack Obama who said that “all efforts should be consolidated to monitor democratic reforms in Russia and China." General Makarov added that anyone hoping for policy change after Obama takes office is making a dire mistake. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan - former Soviet republics in Central Asia - are strategically important partners for both Moscow and Washington. The U.S. is strengthening its ties with oil-rich Kazakhstan, which in 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, allowed American planes to fly over its territory during the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. Now that Washington has announced its plans to send 20,000 more troops to the war-ravaged country, the U.S., according to some Russian experts, will need more bases in neighbouring states. The U.S. also had a military base in Uzbekistan which served as a hub for combat and humanitarian missions to Afghanistan until 2005 when the Central Asian state evicted American troops from the airbase. But now Uzbekistan is turning its foreign policy westwards and searching for closer ties with Washington and the EU.
Russian Carrier-Based Fighters Exercise Over Atlantic
A Russian naval group led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, en route to the Mediterranean, conducted a series of training flights over the Celtic Sea, a Navy spokesman said on Tuesday. Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said Su-33 ship-based fighters had flown a total of 10 sorties. The naval group left the Northern Fleet base in Severomorsk on December 5 and set course for the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. In addition to the Admiral Kuznetsov, it includes the Admiral Levchenko destroyer and a support ship and will begin a visit to Lisbon on Friday. Following the visit, the task force will pass through the Strait of Gibraltar, visit several ports in the Mediterranean, and exercise jointly with Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Another naval task force from the Northern Fleet, led by the Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered cruiser, is currently on a tour of duty in the Caribbean. The Admiral Chabanenko destroyer and two support ships from this task force will visit Cuba on December 19-23. Meanwhile, a task force from Russia's Pacific Fleet, comprising the Admiral Vinogradov, an Udaloy class destroyer, a tugboat, and two tankers, is in the South China Sea heading for the Indian Ocean to take part in the INDRA-2009 joint naval drills with the Indian navy. Russia announced last year that its navy had resumed and would build up a constant presence in different parts of the world's oceans.
Russia to Hold More Test Launches of Bulava ICBM in 2009
Russia will hold several more test launches of the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile next year before a final decision to adopt it for service is made, a senior Navy official said on Tuesday. The latest test of the sea-launched Bulava missile took place on November 28. It was launched from the Dmitry Donskoi Typhoon-class strategic nuclear-powered submarine in the White Sea, effectively engaging its designated target on the Kamchatka Peninsula about 6,700 kilometers (4,200 miles) east of Moscow. The official said the previously announced test launch scheduled for Sunday, also to be made from the Dmitry Donskoi, would not be the last. "Next year, we plan to hold another three or four launches, including from the Yury Dolgoruky nuclear submarine, which may be equipped with this system in the future," the high-ranking member of the Navy's general staff said. He also said the remaining two heavy Akula-class Project 941 (NATO code name Typhoon) nuclear submarines would not be equipped with Bulava missiles, rejecting earlier media reports. "Various options are being considered, but the subs will not carry nuclear weapons anyway. They could be refitted to carry cruise missiles or to lay mines, or could be used in special operations," the official said. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said earlier this month that Russia would in December hold another test launch of the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile, which has already gone into full-scale production. Russia is planning to adopt new sea-launched Bulava missiles for service with the Navy in 2009. The Bulava (SS-NX-30), carrying up to 10 nuclear warheads and having a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles), is designed for deployment on Borey-class Project 955 nuclear-powered submarines. The first submarine in the series, the Yury Dolgoruky, was built at the Sevmash shipyard in the northern Arkhangelsk Region and is currently undergoing sea trials. The submarine has a length of 170 meters (580 feet), a body diameter of around 13 meters (42 feet), and a submerged speed of about 29 knots.