Russian navy goes straight to the bottom?

Russia may start purchasing foreign warships abroad.

“We do not exclude a possibility to purchase foreign vessels from other countries,” Vladimir Vysotsky, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, stated June 24 at the opening of the International Naval Salon in St. Petersburg.

Russia has been either purchasing foreign warships or building the ones of its own with the participation of foreign specialists for a very long time. It happened during the Northern War of 1700-1721 against Sweden, when Dutch specialists built many of Russian vessels. It also happened so during the 19th and the 20th centuries, when Russia was forced to buy ships from other countries due to the nation’s lag in the technological development. Russia’s legendary cruiser Varyag, for instance, was built in the United States.

The Soviet period was not an exception. Russia also had to resort to the help of foreign countries, particularly Germany, to strengthen its navy. In 1940, Russia received the Lutzow cruiser from Germany, which subsequently became a part of the Russian Navy as the Petrovavlovsk.

Why did Admiral Vysotsky make such a statement? Russia’s defense export corporation, Rosoboronexport, said that it was planning to increase the sales of naval engineering from the current 9 percent to 20 percent by 2011. Russia particularly plans to sell its Molnia and Sobol boats to Turkmenistan, 636 project submarines to Algeria and Gepard frigates to Vietnam.

In addition, Russia offers over 50 titles of warships at the International Naval Salon in St. Petersburg – from patrol boats to missile cruisers and mini-submarines.

Oleg Azizov, a spokesman for Rosoboronexport, said that the volume of export orders for Russian naval engineering was evaluated at $6.5 billion, which would keep home producers busy before 2012.

These pieces of information do not match the plans to purchase naval ships from abroad.

“There is nothing surprising about the statement from Vladimir Vysotsky. Russia’s Navy is having hard times now. Russia’s Soviet resources will expire before 2015, and the nation will be forced to do what the admiral said we would do. Why do we have many vessels incomplete at our major ship-building enterprise? The reason is the same: no one pays any attention to the problems of the navy. They keep telling us that there is nothing frightening about the situation, that Russia purchased warships from Poland, for example. We did, that’s true, but it was the USSR’s support of socialism in Poland,” Konstantin Sivkov, a commander of the Russian navy told Pravda.Ru.

“Nowadays, it would be extremely dangerous for Russia to purchase warships from abroad. The radio and electronic equipment of foreign vessels differs from that of ours. Foreign companies will be able to block the equipment and make these vessels useless in case a war breaks out,” Mr. Sivkov said.

“Russia is unable to build enough warships for its navy. Officials said in St. Petersburg that Russia would proceed to multi-purpose sea-based aviation complexes instead of conventional carriers of naval aviation. Who is going to build them? The shipyards, which would be good for the construction of the vessels of this class, were left in Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Anatoly Tsyganok, an expert with the Institute for Military and Political Analysis told Pravda.Ru.

Sergey Balmasov

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov