Staunton, December 26 – A detailed survey of Russian naval operations in support of Russian ground operations in Syria concludes that the Russian fleet can deal with small local wars but lacks the equipment, weapons, and in particular pilots needed for any larger operation, shortcomings that Konstantin Sivkov says were obvious to other countries as well.
Writing in the authoritative Voenno-Promyshlenny kuryer, the retired captain who often serves as a commentator on military and especially naval affairs says that the shortage of pilots seriously limited the use of Russia’s only aircraft carrier and meant that its two losses were more serious than they should have been (lenta.ru/news/2017/12/26/navy/).
The Russian fleet showed that it has “the most contemporary arms” and “a quite high level of training” that are capable of “fulfilling tasks in limited wars and armed conflicts,” but its shortage of weapons and personnel were serious even in the Syrian case and were “obvious not only for Russian but also for foreign military specialists.”
Russia simply has too small a fleet for operations far from shore, too few personnel and too few weapons, and an aging collection of ships which is not being replaced in a timely fashion, the commentator says. Indeed, the fact that the Kuznetsov had to be on station so long highlights all these problems.
The fleet’s rate of fire and air operations were far too low, and “that shows that Russia does not have sufficient reserves” even of such critical weapons as cruise missiles. Instead, when it comes to the most advanced weapons in general, the Russian fleet has far too few to sustain even a limited conflict for any length of time.
“Our fleet demonstrated,” Sivkov concludes, “that it is capable of fulfilling the tasks laid on it completely but up to now only in extremely limited local wars and armed conflicts.” Any larger conflicts at the present time are beyond its capacity.