ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin on Sunday signed a new naval doctrine that makes the United States Russia’s main rival and lays out Russia’s global maritime goals for key areas such as the Arctic and Black Sea.
Speaking in St Petersburg, the former imperial capital founded by Tsar Peter the Great, on Russia’s Navy Day, Putin praised Peter for making Russia a great naval power and elevating the global position of the Russian state.
After inspecting the navy, Putin gave a short speech, promising Russia to launch unique Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles, warning that Russia has the military power to defeat any potential aggressor.
Shortly before his speech, he signed a new 55-page naval doctrine that outlined the broad strategic goals of the Russian navy, including its ambitions to become a world-wide “great naval power.”
The doctrine says that the main threat to Russia is the “US strategic policy of dominating the world’s oceans” and the NATO military alliance approaching Russia’s borders.
The doctrine says that Russia can use its military power in accordance with the situation in the world’s oceans if other soft powers, such as diplomatic and economic tools, are exhausted.
Putin did not mention the conflict in Ukraine in his speech, but military doctrine envisages a “comprehensive strengthening of the geopolitical position of Russia” in the Black and Azov seas.
It also designated the Arctic Ocean as an area of special importance to Russia, which the United States has repeatedly said Russia is trying to militarize.
Russia’s extensive 37,650 km (23,400 mi) coastline stretching from the Sea of Japan to the White Sea also includes the Black and Caspian Seas.
Putin said that the delivery of Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles to the Admiral Gorshkov frigate will begin within months. “Where the troops will be stationed will depend on Russia’s interests,” he said.
“The important thing here is the capability of the Russian navy… It is able to respond with lightning speed to anyone who decides to violate our sovereignty and freedom.”
Hypersonic weapons can travel at nine times the speed of sound, and Russia had previously conducted test launches of Zircon from warships and submarines last year.
In Crimea, Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said Ukrainian forces had hit the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the Russian-held port city early Sunday, injuring five personnel.
(Editor Guy Faulconbridge, William Maclean)