the russian president Vladimir Putin announced this Sunday (31) an ambitious new naval doctrine that sees the United States as the biggest threat to the Kremlin and intends to position the Russia as a major maritime power, with red lines in the Arctic and the Black and Baltic Seas. According to Moscow, the document takes into account the dramatic geopolitical changes caused by the war against ukraine. The scenario is similar to that observed in 2015, when Putin also signed an update to Russian naval doctrine after the deterioration of relations with the West, caused by the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula a year earlier.
The doctrine refers to the fact that Russia has diplomatic and economic instruments to resolve disputes, but can resort to force “if necessary”, while always respecting Russian legislation and international law. The document, signed by Putin on the occasion of Navy Day, points out that “Russia’s national interests as a great maritime power extend to all oceans”.
“We openly mark Russia’s borders and areas of national interest, both economic and strategic, which are vital. We will ensure its defense firmly and by all means,” said the Russian president. As per the update, Russia does not accept interference in its affairs in the Arctic, the Caspian and the Sea of Okhotsk (Pacific); the Black and Azov seas, taken from Ukraine; the Baltic; the Kuril Islands (whose sovereignty is claimed by Japan); the eastern Mediterranean and the straits that lead to Asia and Africa.
Putin exposes his ambitions for greatness just as the West seeks to drive him into isolation. To avoid this ostracism, Moscow announced plans to create naval bases and supply centers from the eastern Mediterranean to the Asia-Pacific region, Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf, an effort that will be supported by the construction of aircraft carriers. In particular, the doctrine highlights the interest in increasing military-naval cooperation with India, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Russia has been trying for years to find strategic alternatives to its traditional European partners.
As for the Mediterranean, in addition to guaranteeing its permanent presence in the port of Tartus, in Syria, Moscow wants to open naval maintenance centers “on the territory of other countries in the region”, including Africa and the Middle East. Another priority is to strengthen the potential of the Black Sea Fleet and the military infrastructure of the annexed Crimea peninsula.
The Russian Navy, which abandoned its base in Cuba (Lourdes) in 2001 and Vietnam (Cam Ranh) in 2004, resumed patrols around the world in 2008, including NATO’s areas of responsibility.
Also on Sunday (31), Russia announced that it will receive new Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missiles “in the coming months”. According to the Russian president, the destination sea of this weapon will be determined depending on the security needs of the country, which in 2018 began an unprecedented hypersonic rearmament program.
Meanwhile, in the face of increasing fighting in Donbass, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged residents of the Kiev-controlled area in the Donetsk region to leave the territory.
“Trust me. The sooner they do this, the more people leave the Donetsk region now, the less time the Russian army will have to kill people,” he emphasized, admitting that there were still “hundreds of thousands of people, tens of thousands of children, many of whom refuse to leave”.
Both the Ukrainian General Staff and the Institute for War Studies reported Russian bombings with artillery and aviation, although Moscow made no significant progress in Donbass, in the Kharkov region, or in the south, in Kherson.