Russian admirals recently received some bad news. The persistent low oil prices and continued economic sanctions have caused the military and political leadership to reassess Russian strategy and procurement policy. GDP is shrinking and the government is having a hard time maintaining the high levels of spending planned to replace a lot of Cold War era equipment. Operations in Ukraine and the perceived threat from NATO and Eastern Europe means that the army and air force have priority when it comes to the budget. The navy leaders were assured that current spending plans would be supported, but the sanctions meant that importing ships and ship building technology have to be put on hold. This is very bad news for the navy because Russian ship yards are mostly mired in Cold War era practices (largely inefficient) and technology (obsolete in the rest of the world.) Admirals fear that the “Red Fleet” (as the mighty navy, second largest in world, was called during the Soviet period) is fading away.
I was really hoping Russia would go big and go blue water with their navy.
UPDATE: Putin is still talking big:
In his latest flexing of muscles, the president set out a naval doctrine on July 26th which aspires to challenge the Atlantic alliance in all its areas of operation, in reply to NATO’s “unacceptable” plans to move some forces close to Russia and expand its global reach. He wants an ocean-going navy, especially active in the Arctic and the Atlantic, to replace a fleet whose ageing ships mostly hug the coast.
Perhaps God works in mysterious ways.