On Navy Day, Putin Says US Is Russia’s Main Threat

SAINT-PETERSBURG, Russia, July 31 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin on Sunday signed a new naval doctrine that makes the United States Russia’s main rival and defines Russia’s global maritime ambitions in crucial areas such as the Arctic and the Black Sea.

Speaking at Russian Navy Day in the former imperial capital of Saint Petersburg founded by Tsar Peter the Great, Putin praised Peter for building Russia into a major maritime power and strengthening Russia’s global position. Russian state.

After inspecting the navy, Putin gave a brief speech in which he pledged what he billed as Russia’s unique Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles, warning that Russia had the military clout to defeat any potential aggressor.

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Shortly before the speech, he signed a new 55-page naval doctrine, which sets out the Russian Navy’s major strategic goals, including its ambitions as a “great maritime power” that span the globe.

The main threat to Russia, according to the doctrine, is “the strategic policy of the United States to dominate the world’s oceans” and the movement of the NATO military alliance towards Russia’s borders.

Russia can use its military force appropriately to the situation in the world’s oceans if other soft powers, such as diplomatic and economic tools, are exhausted, according to the doctrine, recognizing that Russia does not have enough naval bases around the world.

Russia’s priority was to develop strategic and naval cooperation with India as well as broader cooperation with Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other regional states, according to the doctrine.

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

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

Relations between Russia and the West have worsened during the five months of the conflict in Ukraine.

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

Russia’s vast 37,650 km (23,400 mile) 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 in a few months. Where they deploy will depend on Russian interests, he said.

“The key element here is the ability of the Russian Navy… It is able to respond with lightning speed to anyone who decides to infringe on our sovereignty and our freedom.”

Hypersonic weapons can travel at nine times the speed of sound, and Russia has already tested launching the Zircon from warships and submarines over the past year.

In Crimea, Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said Ukrainian forces struck the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet early on Sunday in the Russian-held port city, injuring five personnel. Read more

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Editing by Guy Faulconbridge, William Maclean

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