Russian leader Vladimir Putin has approved changes to his country’s naval strategic doctrine to stop what Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said is NATO’s “eastward expansion.” Russia will focus its attention on the Crimea region, which it seized in 2014 from Ukraine, as well as the Arctic Ocean. Rogozin, who spoke on July 26 during a conference on board the Admiral Gorshkov frigate, told top Russian officers that Russia is amending its naval doctrine because of “changes of international affairs.” The changes appear to have been spurred by the dramatic increase of NATO defenses, including six command centers in eastern Europe and a rapidly deployable force of 5,000 troops, to counter what the alliance regards as Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Putin approved the amendments during the festivities marking Russia’s Navy Day. Speaking at Baltyisk, Putin called the amendments a “milestone event for the future of the Navy.” He said that for the first time Russian maritime doctrine includes social provisions – naval medicine, health building measures for sailors, specialists of the naval sector. “It is particularly important. People must be sure that in strategic documents on the development of the Navy, on the development of Navy-related sectors, the state will never forget about the social aspects of these documents and will implement what people expect from their service in this extremely difficult and important sphere,” he said. Baltyisk is a naval facility on the shore of the Baltic Sea in the Russia enclave known as Kaliningrad, which borders Poland and Lithuania.
Rogozin said “Attention to the Atlantic stems from NATO's active development and the alliance approaching our borders,” and added, “The second consideration is Crimea's and Sevastopol’s rejoining Russia and the task of their swiftest integration into the economic life of our country. And of course [we have to] resume the presence of our fleet in the Mediterranean.” Besides noting what he called the “growing importance of the Northern sea route,” Rogozin said “In addition, [for Russia] the Arctic grants easy unlimited access to the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. And of course, it is the richness of the continental shelf that requires careful attention in its development.”
The revised document highlights Russia’s naval presence in the Atlantic and the Arctic, he said. “Attention to the Atlantic stems from NATO's active development and the alliance approaching our borders,” he explained.
“The second consideration is Crimea's and Sevastopol’s rejoining Russia and the task of their swiftest integration into the economic life of our country. And of course [we have to] resume the presence of our fleet in the Mediterranean.” Updating its icebreaker fleet is a response to the “growing importance of the Northern sea route,” said Rogozin.
Russia’s maritime doctrine covers four functional areas, including: naval activity, maritime transport, marine science and the development of mineral resources. In addition, the doctrine encompasses six regional areas: the Atlantic, the Arctic, the Pacific, the Caspian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and Antarctica.
The doctrine spoke to the Russian aim of "guaranteeing an adequate military naval presence” in the Atlantic, as well as the Mediterranean, in a "permanent manner." As for the Arctic, which is rich in petroleum and gas, Russia wants to "reduce threats on national security and to guarantee strategic stability." It also foresees the "development a Northern Fleet." It also calls for "developing infrastructures" for its fleet at the Black Sea in the Crimea, as well as the "accelerated reconstitution and completion of strategic Russian positions" in the Black Sea.
Russia’s maritime doctrine, which was published on the navy’s official website, is in response to what Russia has called "the inadmissible character of the (ed. note NATO) Alliance's plans to move military infrastructures towards its borders." Russia has repeatedly denounced what its leaders regard as hostile actions taken by the U.S. and NATO allies, especially since the Russian invasion of the Crimea. The U.S. and NATO engaged in several large military exercises since then, and have also bolstered the defense of Ukraine and Poland. American military advisors have been sent to several countries bordering Russia to modernize the military there.