On Navy Day, Putin Says The United States Is The Biggest Threat To Russia

ST PETERSBURG, Russia, July 31 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin signed a new naval doctrine on Sunday that labels the United States as Russia’s main rival and sets out Russia’s global maritime ambitions for crucial areas such as the Arctic and Black Sea.

Speaking on Russian Naval Day in the former imperial capital of St. Petersburg, founded by Tsar Peter the Great, Putin praised Peter for making Russia a great naval power and increasing the Russian state’s global reputation.

After inspecting the navy, Putin made a short speech promising that what he touted as Russia’s unique zircon hypersonic cruise missiles warned that Russia had the military clout to defeat would-be aggressors.

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Shortly before the speech, he signed a new 55-page naval doctrine outlining the broad strategic objectives of the Russian Navy, including its ambitions as a “great naval power” spanning the globe.

The main threat to Russia, the doctrine says, is “US strategic policy to dominate the world’s oceans” and the move of NATO’s military alliance closer to Russia’s borders.

Russia can properly use its military might for the situation in the world’s oceans if other soft powers, such as diplomatic and economic instruments, become exhausted, the doctrine says, recognizing that Russia does not have enough naval bases worldwide.

Russia’s priority has been to develop strategic and maritime cooperation with India, as well as wider cooperation with Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other states in the region, according to the doctrine.

“Guided by this doctrine, the Russian Federation will vigorously and resolutely defend its national interests in the world’s oceans, and having sufficient maritime power will ensure their safety and protection,” the document said.

Putin’s speech did not mention the conflict in Ukraine, but military doctrine provides for a “comprehensive strengthening of Russia’s geopolitical position” in the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov.

Relations between Russia and the West have come under increasing strain over the five months of the conflict in Ukraine.

The doctrine also describes the Arctic Ocean, which the United States has repeatedly said Russia is trying to militarize, as an area of ​​particular interest to Russia.

Russia’s vast 37,650 km (23,400 mi) coastline stretching from the Sea of ​​Japan to the White Sea also includes the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.

Putin said the delivery of zircon hypersonic cruise missiles to the Admiral Gorshkov frigate would begin within months. The location of their deployment would depend on Russian interests, he said.

“The most important thing here is the capability of the Russian navy… It is able to react lightning fast to anyone who decides to infringe on our sovereignty and freedom.”

Hypersonic weapons can travel at nine times the speed of sound, and Russia has conducted previous test launches of the Zircon from warships and submarines in the past year.

In Crimea, Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said Ukrainian troops attacked the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Russian-occupied port city early on Sunday, injuring five personnel. read more

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Editing by Guy Faulconbridge, William Maclean

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