Russia's new naval doctrine focuses on Arctic, Atlantic

Energy-rich oceans new naval priority for Russia in response to NATO expansion in the Baltics

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Russia has updated its maritime doctrine, which states the country will expand its naval forces in the resource-rich Arctic and Atlantic oceans against NATO expansion near its Baltic borders.

The 46-page document comes in a time of worst standoff between Moscow and the West over the Ukraine crisis since the Cold War.

Russia has increased its military activity, particularly in the Black Sea and the Baltics, and President Vladimir Putin vowed to expand Russia’s presence in the Arctic region among key priorities for the military last December.

The new document was released on Sunday and includes plans for an expanded "Northern Fleet" with new atomic-powered icebreakers around the North Pole.

President Vladimir Putin and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced the plan in a naval base at Baltiysk in its Kaliningrad enclave which lies between NATO members, Poland and Lithuania. Rogozin reportedly said Russia plans to use its first icebreaker vessels in 2017.

Rogozin said during the event that "the main emphasis is in two directions - the Arctic and Atlantic," according to the BBC, adding that "the Atlantic emphasis is linked to the fact that recently there has been a quite active development of NATO and it has approached our borders. The Russian Federation will of course respond to that."

Russia's new doctrine describes NATO as a threat because of its growing presence in eastern Europe and criticizes it as "unacceptable."

NATO forces have been boosting their presence in eastern Europe since the annexation of Crimea, supporting the region with 5,000 troops and command centres.

Troops from 18 nations, including non-NATO former Soviet nations, took part in a two-week military drill under US command in western Ukraine recently.

Russia has been locked into a conflict with the West and subject to economic sanctions since it annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine last year following the deposing of pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.

The European Union and the United States also accuse Moscow of supporting pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, who have been fighting to establish the independence of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic since Yanukovych fled the country.

The new naval document also states that Russia is to establish a naval presence in the Mediterranean and will closely cooperate with China in the Pacific Ocean.

According to the US Geological Service, as much as 30 percent of the world’s untapped natural resources are found in the Arctic region, but it has shrunk periodically in recent decades.

Russia already committed a $500 million plan to establish as many as 40 ports, airfields and radar stations as part of a new defence programme in the Arctic, causing concern over the militarisation of the region.

The other Arctic Council countries, which includes Denmark, Canada, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and the United States, that are also active in the region. Russia has more than 7,000 kilometers of Arctic coastline.

TRTWorld and agencies