In 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was mocked ruthlessly by then-President Barack Obama for saying Russia was the United States’ greatest geo-political threat. Over the last decade, many in the government warned the former Soviet country was an ongoing danger. Today, Defense Department analysts say it’s one of America’s greatest adversaries.
After Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, President Vladimir Putin became more hardline toward America as Washington supported Ukraine in the fight to defend itself. On Sunday, July 31, he went beyond rhetoric and enshrined a new naval doctrine naming the United States as the Kremlin’s principal rival on the world’s oceans.
Putin Declares America His New Enemy
During Navy Day in St. Petersburg, the Russian leader officially signed off on a new 55-page creed anticipating a conflict with the US armed forces. The new document replaces a 2015 maritime dogma. It states the strategic policy of the USA is to dominate the world’s waters and voiced the nation’s desire to become a “great maritime power.” The declaration added that Moscow might use its naval capabilities if diplomatic and economic tools don’t work. It alleges US policy is to exert control of the seas, allowing the government to exert political, informational, and military pressure against Russia.
The document noted that the Russian Federation would “firmly and resolutely” defend Moscow’s interests. The doctrine specifically mentions the Black, Caspian, Baltic, and Azov seas. It also noted the Arctic, Indian, and Pacific oceans are of interest to Moscow, as well as sea lanes around Asia and Africa.
The occasion for rolling out the statement isn’t by coincidence. The declaration came on Peter the Great’s 350th birthday because Putin looks to the Czar as an inspiration.
The Kremlin Plans Naval Expansion
In order to facilitate the objectives of the doctrine, it lays out that the regime must create and deploy advanced warships. It includes designing, engineering, and building aircraft carriers.
Over the last several years, the military has also tested hypersonic missiles. Putin noted within a few months, the Navy frigate Admiral Gorshkov would carry the high-speed rocket as part of its weapon’s capabilities. The missile can travel nine times faster than the speed of sound, and warships and submarines can launch them.
Still, the threat may not be as ominous as it sounds. Defense analysts question if the weapon is really a game changer. Research suggests it would not outperform cruise or ballistic missiles regarding speed or evasion.
It’s unknown if Putin can meet his objectives while he’s bogged down in Ukraine. Its Navy has seen mixed results during the conflict. But, one thing is clear: the Kremlin expects to increase its confrontation with the United States.
Is the US military ready? Will President Joe Biden pursue a “peace through strength” posture?