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August 17, 2017 No.
7055

Russia's New Naval Policy: Making A Statement Or Pre-Budget Debate Skirmishing

,Putin Navy Day
Vladimir Putin is onboard on Navy Day (Source Rt.com) is he onboard with budget requests?

On July 20, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the "Fundamentals Of State Policy In The Russian Federation In The Field Of Naval Activities For The Period Until 2030". The new policy replaces the "Fundamentals Of State Policy Of The Russian Federation In The Field Of Naval Activities For The Period Until 2020," adopted in 2012. As the previous policy was slated to remain in force until 2020 the introduction of the new policy two years in advance required an explanation. Pro-government Russian outlets praised the policy as a response to the rapidly changing global environment, while independent experts dismissed the policy as a propaganda exercise that sets unattainable goals and is primarily intended to buttress the Russian Navy's position in the upcoming budget battles.

The new policy (See Appendix I)[1] preaches the need for a powerful modernized navy. While the strong naval tradition can be expected in the United States with theorists like Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan and his The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, Russia has always been a land power. In Soviet times Sergey Gorshkov (1910-1988) revolutionized Soviet military thinking by persuading the leadership that Russia needed a navy to project power and be a component of the nuclear deterrence triad.  These themes continue in the new policy for example in paragraph 8.

"8. The Russian Federation continues to retain the status of a great sea power; its naval capacity ensures the implementation and protection of its national interests in any area of the World Ocean, is an important factor of international stability and strategic deterrence, and allows it to pursue independent national maritime policy as an equal participant of the international maritime activities."

However, perhaps reflecting an awareness that in Russia's sanctions-impacted economy requests for massive naval investments are a hard sell, the policy is laden with explanations on why the navy is essential for protecting  Russian economic interests and assuring access and communications to the more remote parts of Russia that are rich in natural resources and therefore are coveted by foreigners. The Arctic area in particular is singled out. This line of thought can be seen in the following paragraphs:

"18, The long-term significance of the World Ocean for the entire world and for the Russian Federation will grow steadily due to the depletion of natural resources on land, impact of human economic and other activities on the environment, climate change, human migration, and other processes...

"20. Recently, rivalry between countries for the access to the natural resources of the World Ocean has become stronger; the aspirations of a number of states to gain control over the strategically important maritime transportation routes have intensified. In the context of increased intensity of World Ocean exploitation for economic and military goals, the political significance of the above-mentioned factors acquires a global character...

"23. For the period until 2030, the forecast is a militarily and politically unstable global situation, characterized by increased global competition, rivalry between world power centers, unstable political and economic processes taking place against the backdrop of deteriorating international relations and the activation of transnational terrorist groups.

"24. Existing dangers still remain and new dangers emerge to the national security of the Russian Federation in the World Ocean; the chief of them are:

"a) The ambition of a number of countries, primarily the United States of America (USA) and its allies, to dominate the World Ocean, including the Arctic, and to achieve overwhelming superiority for their naval forces;...

"h) Flash points for the eruption of armed conflicts and their escalation in the territories strategically significant for the Russian Federation and its allies exist, as well as in the territories of the countries that have outlet to the World Ocean.

"27. The necessity for the naval presence of the Russian Federation in strategically important and other regions of the World Ocean is also determined on the basis of the following dangers:

"a) The increased ambition of a number of states to possess sources of hydrocarbon resources in the Middle East, the Arctic, and the Caspian Sea basin;...

"b) The negative impact on the international atmosphere caused by the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Republic of Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, [as well as] conflicts in the Middle and Near East, and in several South Asian and African countries

"28 b) maintaining strategic stability and international rule of law in the World Ocean, in particular, by the effective use of the Navy as one of the major tools of foreign policy of the Russian Federation;…

"29 c) Creating in the remote areas of the Arctic and the Far East districts of the Russian Federation of dual-purpose infrastructure facilities with the aim of providing basing for civil ships, Navy ships and vessels, and federal security service bodies;"

Below is a sampling of reactions by Russian military analysts:

Russia Today's Russian edition quotes Valery Korovin, head of the Center for Geopolitical Expertise, who links the timing of the document's publication to economic and geo-political factors. According to Korovin, the document stresses the emergence of the aircraft carrier component as a substantive part of the future ocean-going fleet. The problematic economic situation and confrontation with the West as the result of Western sanctions impel Russia to take decisive actions in bolstering its naval security and investing in military production facilities.

"Economic growth as well as security are based on the concept of the  [country's] power", said Korovin. "Power" according to Korovin is a geopolitical term describing the inter-related nature of economic, political and military factors, which guarantee stability and a state's development.

"Economic development is tied to the creation of major economic zones, and in our case the Euro-Asian economic zone. The creation of such a zone is based on the belief of [our] allies, who are ready to join the Euro-Asian bloc, that Russia will provide their global security", says Korovin.  He sums up by asserting that it's impossible to overcome economic shortcomings without providing defense for the partners, and thus this requires the bolstering of naval-military component.

"Without a full-fledged fleet, we won't be able to attract allies, show force and provide economic growth and global security. It's impossible to acquire power in world's current state, which is headed to a new security configuration based on multipolarity, without the presence of aircraft carriers in every spot in the world", says Korovin. 

Regarding the Russian fleet's global presence Korovin says: "Our traditional classic points of presence may be restored in Central and South America, Africa, some countries of South -East Asia, first of all in Vietnam. Our new allies are Iran and probably India. Iran is a key partner, since through Iran we gain access to the Indian Ocean".

 Valery Korovin
Valery Korovin (Source: Tunnel-ufo.ru)

Other experts warn that the term "second mightiest fleet in the world" is problematic, since it implies competition not only with the U.S. but with China as well .  According to Andrey Frolov, editor in chief of "Military Export Journal": "It's quite problematic how you weigh the criteria for second place. Is it the number of vessels, their displacement, number of nuclear submarines or aircraft carriers? We hold second place thanks to a large number of nuclear submarines, but if we consider the total tonnage of surface vessels, then China has held this position for a long time already".

Konstantin Makienko, deputy CEO, Center for Analysis of Strategy and Technology, on the contrary thinks that holding on to second place (after the U.S.) is a difficult task.

"Being the sixth biggest economy in the world, we can get to second place in naval-military potential only by concentrating our resources to their maximum", says the expert. He adds that Russia for geographical reasons should not participate in the naval arms race between the U.S. and China: " We are a continental country. Our trade is based on pipelines, railways and motorways. China's trade in contrast, is based on naval routes, thus they make enormous investments in their Navy". Makienko says in summation that the Russian navy's main task is to serve as the naval component of strategic nuclear deterrence in conjunction with Missile Nuclear Forces and Strategic Aviation.   

(Russian.rt.com, July 21, 2017)

Igor Korotchenko, editor in chief, "National Defense Magazine" in an interview with Tv-Zvezda (the  TV channel of the Russian defense ministry)  says that in the current state of affairs military power is a major factor capable of saving a country from being a victim of aggression at the hands of more powerful actors: " In a modern competitive world the military power factor might be the defining one allowing a country to assert its interests in the face of more powerful actors.  It enables the country not to be  victim of aggression. We've observed that during the last decades when the US and their NATO allies exterminated countries which did not want to compromise their sovereignty".

According to Korotchenko :" The factor of a powerful, mighty Russian military fleet is a decisive one in order to make them ( the West ) take us into consideration and in order to enable us to protect our natural resources in the Arctic. "

(Tvzvezda.ru, July 21, 2017)

Igor Korotchenko
Igor Korotchenko (Source: Oxrana.ru)

Oleg Ponomarenko, Center for Strategic Conjuncture : "We may say that that the Russian fleet is currently on a very good level, it is still one of the mightiest fleets in the world…. We must also say that except for the American fleet the Russian one enjoys superiority over all the other fleets. China, though, breathes down our neck. We take Chinese development into account."  Speaking about technical questions, "the task [of remaining in second place] is achievable…. Even the means, we currently have (high precision missiles ) , if there is a sufficient amount, suffice in order to create a deterrence factor". 

(Ria.ru/radio, July 21, 2017)

Leonid Nersisyan, a columnist for the Regnum news agency writes: "Regarding 'second place' – if we don't take into account the atomic submarines – the race against China is already lost. China massively builds military ships of the first class – aircraft carriers and cruiser and it so does so at an accelerated work pace". Currently Russia disposes of neither the production nor professional capabilities to cope with such projects. The break with Ukraine which previously cooperated with Russia's arms industry is taking its toll. "Thus it's quite difficult to call the published document an "element of strategic planning"   - many key paragraphs, describing rearmament and fleet's development, are unobtainable in the current reality, while an attempt to do so will squander resources and time. One can only hope that the plans are mere propaganda and they will remain only on paper. We should admit – we sorely lack real strategic planning". 

(Regnum.ru, June 22, 2017)


Leonid Nersisyan (Source: Amyut.am)

Aleksandr Sitnikov, a columnist for Svobodnaya Pressa ( Free Press ) seconds Nersisyan's argument. Russian military naval building capabilities are scarce and inadequate to outstrip the Chinese rate of building naval military vessels. The author argues that not only are the surface fleet's construction capabilities insufficient to meet the document's requirements, but China may surpass Russia in the number of strategic nuclear submarines. The author states that currently the Russian fleet totals 106 surface ships, at least 50 of which need to be replaced due to their obsolescence and combat readiness deficiencies.

(Svpressa.ru, July 21, 2017)

According to an article in Vedomosti, the policy imposes exorbitant goals upon the fleet. The article hints that the policy reflects the ongoing struggle over priorities for the new military acquisition program. Mikhail Barabanov, Center for Analysis of Strategy and Technology, says that historically, major expenditures on both the Czarist Russian and Soviet fleets resulted in catastrophic defeats in the Crimean and Russo-Japanese wars and the massive expenditures in Soviet times did not help Russian foreign policy very much. Therefore, priority should be extended to the ground forces.

(Vedomosti.ru, July 23)

Aleksandr Goltz, a leading military expert, and deputy editor in chief of Everyday Journal, writes in his column: "Frankly speaking, Russian military –naval strategy does not substantially differ from the general doctrine. Endless boasting concludes very fast by betting on nuclear weapons. Only by referring to nuclear warheads, it's possible to explain the goal of having second place in global military capabilities. In other departments the comparison is laughable. Russia's one carrier is under repair after traveling to Syria while the Americans have a dozen carrier groups and this disparity is all across the board. Yes, Russia enjoys parity with the US when considering nuclear naval forces. But China, which commissions new ships every year, surpasses Russia taking into account all the other criteria. Thus the military-naval strategy is oriented to an arms race with China. In the practical terms, the only meaningful purpose of this document is to strengthen the fleet's bargaining position during the bureaucratic fight over the new rearmament program. "

(Ej.ru, July 25, 2017)

Alexander Goltz

Aleksandr Golz (Source: Euromaidanpress)

Appendix I - The Fundamentals of State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Field of Naval Activities for the Period until 2030

  1. General Provisions

1. These Fundamentals determine the goals, objectives, priorities and mechanisms of implementation of the state policy of Russian Federation in the field of naval activities for the period until 2030, as well as the role and place of the Navy, forces and facilities of the federal security service bodies in the military component of the naval capacity of the Russian Federation.

4. These Fundamentals are a document of strategic planning of the Russian Federation.

5. These Fundamentals concretize certain provisions of the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation, the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, the Naval Doctrine of the Russian Federation, and other documents of strategic planning of the Russian Federation in the military sphere, as well as the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation.

6. Naval activities are the activities of the state with the goal of forming and maintaining by military means of favorable conditions in the World Ocean for sustainable development of the Russian Federation and implementation of top priorities of its national security.

7. Naval activities are a component (type) of the military activities of the state, which are exercised in the World Ocean with the goal of preventing aggression against the Russian Federation and of implementing its national interests, and belong to the category of the highest state priorities.

8. The Russian Federation continues to retain the status of a great sea power; its naval capacity ensures the implementation and protection of its national interests in any area of the World Ocean, is an important factor of international stability and strategic deterrence, and allows it to pursue independent national maritime policy as an equal participant of the international maritime activities.

12. The Navy as part of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation serves to ensure the protection of national interests of the Russian Federation and its allies in the World Ocean by military means, to maintain military and political stability on the global and regional levels, to repulse acts of aggression against the Russian Federation from the direction of the ocean and the seas.

13. The Navy creates and maintains conditions necessary to ensure the safety and security of the maritime activities of the Russian Federation; ensures its naval presence, display of the flag of the Russian Federation and the military strength of the state in the World Ocean; participates in the fight against piracy, in military, peacekeeping and humanitarian activities pursued by the world community and meeting the interests of the Russian Federation; makes calls of naval ships at ports of foreign states; protects the state border of the Russian Federation under water, including anti-submarine and anti-underwater-sabotage defense in the interests of security of the Russian Federation.

 

  1. Russia and the World Ocean. Military Dangers and Threats to the National Security of the Russian Federation

18. The long-term significance of the World Ocean for the entire world and for the Russian Federation will grow steadily due to the depletion of natural resources on land, impact of human economic and other activities on the environment, climate change, human migration, and other processes.

20. Recently, rivalry between countries for the access to the natural resources of the World Ocean has become stronger; the aspirations of a number of states to gain control over the strategically important maritime transportation routes have intensified. In the context of increased intensity of World Ocean exploitation for economic and military goals, the political significance of the above-mentioned factors acquires a global character.

21. Leading world powers, possessing significant naval capacity and a developed basing system, continue to step up their naval presence in the major areas of the World Ocean, including water zones directly adjacent to the territory of the Russian Federation.

23. For the period until 2030, unstable military and political situation is predicted in the world, characterized by increased global competition, rivalry of world power centers, instability of political and economic processes taking place against the backdrop of deterioration of international relations and activation of transnational terrorist groups.

24. Existing dangers continue to exist and new dangers emerge to the national security of the Russian Federation in the World Ocean; the chief of them are:

a) ambition of a number of countries, primarily the United States of America (USA) and its allies, to dominate the World Ocean, including the Arctic, and to achieve overwhelming superiority of their naval forces;

b) territorial claims of foreign states against the Russian Federation with respect to coastal areas and water zones adjacent to them;

c) increased number of countries that possess combat-capable and powerful naval forces;

d) proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missile technologies;

e) ambition of a number of countries to limit the access of the Russian Federation to the resources of the World Ocean and its access to vital maritime transportation routes;

f) economic, political, legal and military pressure on the Russian Federation with the aim to decrease the efficiency of its maritime activities in the World Ocean, weaken its control over the Northern Sea Route – the historically established national transportation route of the Russian Federation;

g) growth of international terrorism, piracy, poaching, illegal maritime shipment of arms, narcotics, psychotropic substances, chemical substances, and radioactive materials;

h) flash points of armed conflicts and their escalation in the territories strategically significant for the Russian Federation and its allies, as well as in the territories of the countries that have outlet to the World Ocean.

27. The necessity for the naval presence of the Russian Federation in strategically important and other regions of the World Ocean is also determined on the basis of the following dangers:

a) increased ambition of a number of states to possess sources of hydrocarbon resources in the Middle East, the Arctic, and the Caspian Sea basin;

b) negative impact on the international atmosphere of the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Republic of Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, conflicts in the Middle and Near East, in several South Asian and African countries;

c) possible exacerbation of existing and emergence of new inter-state conflicts in any region of the World Ocean;

d) growth of pirate activity in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as in the Indian and Pacific Oceans;

e) the possibility of foreign states opposing the economic activity of the Russian Federation and its scientific research in the World Ocean.

 

  1. Goals, Objectives, and Priorities of State Policy in the Field of Naval Activities

28. Major goals of state policy in the field of naval activities are:

a) maintaining the naval capacity on a level ensuring guaranteed deterrence of aggression against the Russian Federation from the seas and the oceans, and capability of causing unacceptable damage to any potential enemy;

b) maintaining strategic stability and international rule of law in the World Ocean, in particular, by the effective use of the Navy as one of the major tools of foreign policy of the Russian Federation;…

29. Major objectives of state policy in the field of naval activities are:

a) In the sphere of defense and national security:

ensuring constant readiness of the Navy for the deterrence and prevention of military conflicts, for armed defense of the Russian Federation and its allies in accordance with the norms of international law;

development of a system of national security of the Russian Federation in the World Ocean by designing and implementing a complex of interrelated political, diplomatic, legal, military, economic, informational and other measures to prevent and decrease the level of aggression threat against the Russian Federation in the World Ocean;…

c) In the sphere of economy: …

creating in the remote areas of the Arctic and the Far East districts of the Russian Federation of dual-purpose infrastructure facilities with the aim of providing basing for civil ships, Navy ships and vessels, and federal security service bodies;

d) In the sphere of foreign policy:

ensuring sufficient naval presence of the Russian Federation in the strategically important areas of the World Ocean, display of the flag of the Russian Federation and its military force;

expansion of geographical reach of visits and business calls of Navy ships and vessels at foreign ports;…

g) In the sphere of strategic stability:

involving foreign states in joint actions maintaining security and strategic stability in the World Ocean;

developing logistics centers of the Navy outside the territory of the Russian Federation;

forming groups of special ships and vessels to provide comprehensive support of the activities of the Navy forces (troops) in the World Ocean;

adhering to international treaties of the Russian Federation in the field of strategic arms reduction and limitation, participation of the Russian Federation in development and conclusion of new agreements in keeping with its national interests;

contributing to the strengthening of regional stability, development and implementation of confidence-building measures in the field of naval activities;

participation of the Navy forces (troops) in international peace- and security-keeping (restoration) operations, taking measures to prevent (remove) threats to peace, suppressing acts of aggression (breach of peace) on the basis of resolutions of the United Nations Security Council or other bodies authorized to make such decisions in accordance with the norms of international law;…

30. Priorities of state policy in the field of naval activities are:

a) maintaining operational and combat capabilities of the Navy at a level that ensures it one of the leading positions in the world;

b) developing and maintaining the ability of the Navy to strike potential enemy targets on land with both conventional and nuclear weapons;

c) balanced development of the Navy with the aim of not allowing significant superiority of the US Navy or that of other leading sea powers over the Navy;

d) ensuring the possibility of long-term presence of the Navy forces (troops) in strategically important areas of the World Ocean;…

 

  1. The Navy as an Effective Instrument of Strategic Deterrence

31. In the 21st century, the role of armed forces in the fight between countries for leadership in the seas and oceans grows significantly. Navies of world powers are capable of changing the course of a military confrontation and the outcome of a war as a whole by their naval actions. A proof of this fact is the concept of “global strike” developed in the USA, which presents a challenge to world security and directly threatens military security of the Russian Federation. An important role in the implementation of this concept is assigned to the naval forces.

32. The Navy is one of the most effective instruments of strategic (nuclear and non-nuclear) deterrence, including the prevention of the “global strike”. This is due to the presence in the Navy of the naval strategic nuclear forces and general-purpose naval forces, to the possibility of it implementing its combat capabilities practically in every region of the World Ocean, to its capacity for prompt deployment of Navy forces (troops) in conflict areas and long-term presence in these areas without violating sovereignty of other countries, as well as to high readiness to action, including launching strikes against critically important enemy targets.

33. Following development of high-precision weapons, the Navy is now facing a qualitatively new mission – destroying the enemy’s military-economic potential by attacking its vital targets from the sea.

34. Availability of sufficient quantity of high-precision weapons and possibility of their various uses will make possible the deterrence of large-scale military action against the Russian Federation.

35. Core elements of the strategic deterrence system are nuclear and non-nuclear deterrence.

37. In the context of escalation of a military conflict, display of readiness and determination to apply force with the use of non-strategic nuclear weapon is a credible deterrent.

38. Major objectives of the naval activities for prevention of military conflicts and strategic deterrence are:

a) continuous evaluation and prediction of military and political environment in the World Ocean on global and regional levels;

b) maintaining strategic stability in the World Ocean;

c) maintaining the readiness of Navy forces (troops) for action in strategically important areas of the World Ocean;

d) ensuring the ability of the Navy ships to use weapons, including long-range high-precision weapons, against any potential enemy;

e) inter-theater maneuvering and regular under-ice navigation by the Navy atomic submarines;

f) enhancing operational and combat capabilities of the Black Sea Fleet by developing a joint force grouping in the Crimean peninsula;

g) ensuring constant naval presence of the Russian Federation in the Mediterranean Sea and other strategically important areas of the World Ocean, including areas of major maritime transportation routes;…

 

  1. Strategic Requirements for the Navy, Objectives and Priorities in the Field of its Construction and Development

39. The Russian Federation will not allow significant superiority of the navies of other states over the Navy and will ensure the Navy secures its place as the second in the world in combat capabilities.

40. The Navy must fulfill the following major strategic requirements:

a) in time of peace and in the period of a direct threat of aggression: …

ability to deploy forces promptly and covertly in remote areas of the World Ocean;…

sustainable, covert and continuous management of forces (troops) in real time when they are located in any area of the World Ocean;

b) in time of war:

ability to cause unacceptable damage to the enemy in order to force him to cease military operations on conditions of guaranteed assurance of national interests of the Russian Federation;

capability for successful confrontation with an enemy who has high-technology naval capacity (including having high-precision weapons in its arsenal), with its naval forces groupings in near and remote maritime zones and ocean areas;…

capability of long-term autonomous activity, including independent logistics and weapons replenishment in remote areas of the World Ocean from new projects logistics support ships;…

41. Major objectives in the sphere of Navy construction and development are:

b) maintaining the combat capability of the naval strategic nuclear forces at a high level;…

42. Mid-term and long-term priorities in the field of Navy construction and development are:

a) updating and maintaining at a high level of the naval strategic nuclear forces which are component of strategic missile submarine groups;

c) formation of combat strength of task forces in various strategic areas, based on the most unfavorable predictions of outbreak of hostilities against the Russian Federation;…

43. The core weapons of Navy surface and submarine forces as well as coastal defense troops for the period of up to 2025 will be high-precision long-range cruise missiles.

44. After 2025, hypersonic missiles and robotic devices of various applications, including unmanned underwater vehicles, will enter service in Navy surface and submarine forces as well as coastal defense troops.

45. There are plans to build an aircraft carrier, new surface warships and submarines (combat platforms), new generation deep-water naval systems, and to deploy naval robotic systems for performing a large array of combat and supporting missions.

 

  1. Conclusion

52. The Russian Federation, being a great sea and land power, must take into account all aspects of geopolitical processes happening in the World Ocean, in coastal territories, and in adjacent water zones.

53. Trends of development of modern global geopolitical environment furnish convincing proof that only the presence of a strong Navy will ensure leading position for the Russian Federation in the multi-polar world of the 21st century, and will allow it to effectively implement and protect its national interests.

 

 


[1] For the original Russian text use the following link.