The beginning of this autumn was marked with a range of staff reshuffles in the Russian Navy. Last Sunday the Russian president dismissed Vladimir Kuroyedov, Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. He was Vladimir Putin’s favorite, though many emergency situations in the Navy were linked with his name. Putin attended the presentation of his Ph. D. thesis in July 2000. A few weeks later, the world witnessed the tragedy with the Kursk nuclear submarine, which killed 118 submariners. Another tragedy happened on August 30 – a submarine carrying nine seamen sank. The Novorossiisk nuclear submarine failed to launch missiles in the presence of Putin and Kuroyedov in February 2004. Military seamen of the Neukrotimy warship blew up two mines during the rehearsal of the parade on the eve of Navy Day in St. Petersburg in July 2005 – the warship did not sink by a miracle. The AS-28 bathyscaphe sank near Kamchatka in early August.
The majority of observers state that emergency situations in the Navy have become regular, which means that the leadership had a lot of reasons to dismiss Kuroyedov. In the meantime, Vladimir Putin stated that, “Vladimir Kuroyedov has been heading the Navy since 1997. We know the state of the Navy in 1997. This was not the best inheritance. We have lost a lot since the early 1990s.”
The president said, “We have restored a substantial part of the Navy’s might. We have passed a realistic program of its development. The latest exercise has proven that the Navy develops.”
He did not forget about the tragedies, which happened at sea, and evaluated them. According to Putin, “there were tragedies, and we know about them. But I’d like to note that the fact that the Navy developed dominated over all tragedies and emergencies.”
In other words, the president appreciated Kuroyedov’s performance.
Russian society has repeatedly witnessed that the president does not betray his people. Generals and admirals who know the situation “from inside” are sure that Kuroyedov became Putin’s person in 2000. To all appearances, Putin liked Kuroyedov for fresh ideas and new proposals mentioned in his thesis (it’s no coincidence that some people wanted to promote him to doctor for this thesis). But the most important thing is that Kuroyedov was loyal to Putin during the crisis at the end of the 1990s, and the beginning of the 2000s. He was not a public figure. He circulated statements and official press releases very seldom.
Unlike Kuroyedov, new commander-in-chief Vladimir Masorin is open to society and journalists. He organized a press conference after his appointment and told journalists about the prospects of development of the Russian Navy.
The Navy has prospects. In the meantime, it’s evident that the development of the navy is not a priority task for Russia. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov recently said that the major part of the military budget will be spent on the development of the Air and Anti-Aircraft Force. Although it’s no secret that the Russian Navy is in a very difficult situation.
Captain Leonid Malyshev, an instructor at the Military Academy of the General Staff, stated at a press conference in Moscow on September 2, that “the strength of the Russian Navy has decreased 250% over the past 15 years”. According to him, “the number of warships has decreased from 1,320 to 363 units; strategic submarines – from 62 to 27 units; submarines – from 350 to 78 units.” The analyst noted that advanced democracies continue strengthening their Navies taking into consideration the character of modern threats and challenges. Malyshev noted that the US Navy will consist of 400 warships in 2030, and around a half of them will carry cruise missiles. In addition, the US will have 12 up-to-date aircraft carriers. As is known, Russia has only one aircraft carrier, and does not plan to build new ones in the near future. It does not have money anyway.
In other words, it’s obvious that Russia’s revival as a naval power is impossible without substantial financial investment in the development of the Russian Navy. However, Russia does not use its oil proceeds for this purpose. Isn’t it another fatal mistake?