Russia to Add 16 Ships to Caspian Fleet by 2020
Russia is planning some ambitious additions to its Caspian Flotilla, its top naval commander has said. Via Xinhua:
Russia would deploy new coastal missiles and warships in the Caspian Sea, Chief Commander of the Russian Navy Vladimir Vysotsky said Wednesday.
In 2011, Russia's Caspian Fleet would receive two new missile boats and three landing ships, Vysotsky told a meeting of the Maritime Board held in Caspian town of Astrakhan, adding that the fleet would receive at least 16 new warships and missile boats by 2020.
Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov added that the current fleet is "uncompetitive":
"The fleet which is currently in service in the Caspian Sea could be characterized as outdated and uncompetitive," Ivanov, a former defense minister, said at a government meeting in the Caspian port city of Astrakhan.
He said most of its 148 ships were over 30 years old.
Although Russia recently announced plans to beef up its coastal defenses around the Caspian, it has thus far not said much about plans to add any ships to the fleet. So -- assuming this comes to pass -- it's a significant move.
It's worth recalling the words of a Russian representative to a Caspian Sea meeting, just last week, in Baku:
[Golovin] stressed that "all the littoral states agree that the Caspian should be a sea of peace and friendship." "And accordingly, none of the littoral states is going to start up the arms race, or compete in the military sphere with each other," Golovin said. This is not the field of activity on which the littoral states must spend their efforts, he said.
But every single country around the Caspian -- especially Iran and to a somewhat lesser extent Kazakhstan -- has been building up their navies on the Caspian, as well. Russia is just following suit.
Joshua Kucera, a senior correspondent, is Eurasianet's former Turkey/Caucasus editor and has written for the site since 2007.