PUTIN GIVES DOCTRINE TO SAILORS

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By Yury Golotyuk Vremya Novostei, July 30, 2001, p. 2

Russian President Vladimir Putin has given Russian sailors a purely professional present for their professional holiday: he signed the sea doctrine of the Russian Federation. However, this doctrine will hardly change the life of the Navy much

Russian President Vladimir Putin has given Russian sailors a purely professional present for their professional holiday: he signed the sea doctrine of the Russian Federation. The president reported on this present on board of the missile cruiser Moskva. Sailors of the cruiser did not seem to be much worried about this event. Taking advantage of the occasion, they asked the president help them repair the telephone connection with the coast. As a matter of fact, sailors’ communication with their families left on the shore is directly connected with the sea doctrine. Soon Moskva will sail to the Mediterranean to restore Russia’s military presence in the most important zones of the world ocean.

From now on, the sea doctrine is the basic document determining Russia’s state policy in both military and civilian navigation. This document was initiated by the president in his secret decree of March 4, 2000.

Late in autumn 2000, this document was submitted to the Kremlin, where it suspended for more than half a year. All this time the authorities of the Russian Navy avoided questions about the fate of the doctrine. However, the military confessed in private talks that “the president has lost his concern for sailors.” The formal reason for this delay was the catastrophe of the Kursk. Apparently Putin’s relations with authorities of the Navy actually changed after the tragedy of the Kursk. Two weeks before the catastrophe Putin attended the defense of the dissertation of Navy Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Kuroedov, and a month later Kuroedov’s ideas were unpopular in the Kremlin. Meanwhile, the president’s dissatisfaction was caused not only by the failure of the salvage operation in the Barents Sea but also the enormous financial ambitions of the authorities of the Navy connected with implementation of the presidential decree of March 4, 2000. They insisted on at least 25-30% of the entire defense budget of the country on fulfillment of all the necessary tasks. They also stressed that it is necessary to start designing new series of submarines and ships. The Main Staff of the Navy chose the most unsuitable time for proposing their initiatives: right at that time the Kremlin was pressuring security agencies to make them save as much money as possible.

The fact that the president has finally signed the sea doctrine does not mean that the disfavor of the Navy is over. This is merely a conceptual document, which does not imply that the president is ready to play by rules of the Navy. Sergei Ivanov’s becoming defense minister did not improve the situation of the Navy: the sums allocated to it are still dwindling.

Last week it was reported that Russian military vessels will leave the naval base in Cam Rhan Bay in Vietnam because its maintenance costs Russia too much, whereas the strategic importance of this base is not so great.

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