The Russian navy will mark its 352nd anniversary in St Petersburg and other ports around the country today.
A major naval modernization program under President Vladimir Putin in the past decade has blunted the significant downsizing and budget cuts of the Post-Soviet era. Despite this, the navy’s ability to project force on the open oceans is limited, forcing Moscow to prioritize coastal and territorial waters. Therefore, Russia’s defense
policies aim for naval dominance in border regions such as the NATO-facing western border—particularly in the Baltic Sea.
To this end, expect the Navy’s Baltic fleet—based primarily in the Russian European exclave of Kaliningrad—to undergo further modernization. This territory hosts Russia’s only all-year Baltic port not prone to freezing over in winter, making it key to Russia’s Baltic naval efforts. Modernization will likely include increasing investment in missile systems like the S-400 on land and Kalibr cruise missiles on smaller coastal ships—which can strike targets 1,500 miles away and sink larger NATO warships.
The strategic importance of Kaliningrad to Moscow is only likely to increase in the medium-term future which fuels the ongoing build-up of NATO forces in Eastern Europe to counter Russia.
John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.