Staunton, March 4 – Russian shipyards are delivering only half of the ships the government has promised that they would, an increasing share of the new ones are being sold for cash to India and other countries, and existing ships are being refitted so slowly that they are not able to perform their military tasks, Sergey Ishchenko says.
As a result, the military affairs analyst for the Svobodnaya Pressa portal, “the address of the new Russian Tsushima” – a reference to Russia’s most horrific naval defeat in 1904 – “is Sevastopol” because the Black Sea Fleet is no longer the military force Russia needs there or in the Mediterranean (svpressa.ru/war21/article/194407/).
Ishchenko says that “the last hopes of the Black Sea Fleet in the near term to form a fully-operational brigade of contemporary frigates have collapsed as a result of shortcomings in production and refitting and the sale of many new ships for three billion US dollars to India (news.rambler.ru/troops/39236720-indiya-soglasilas-kupit-u-rossii-chetyre-novyh-fregata/).
And adding insult to injury, he continues, the Indians are refitting these ships with more advanced technologies than Russian shipbuilders have put in them, an indication not of caution of selling such technologies to a foreign power but rather of the fact that Russian naval ships in general do not have them.
Because Moscow has chosen to sell the ships for money, all those in the Black Sea Fleet can do “for the entire foreseeable future” is “to suck their thumbs” and hope against hope that the refitting and modernization of its existing ships will not take as long as now projected. Several ships are now slated to be out of service for as much as five years.
Thus, they can’t be included in the navy’s order of battle even if some in Moscow want to do that. And the fleet has no chance of being as large as it now is effectively before between 2025 and 2030.
Russia still has not figured out how to cope with the loss of Ukrainian suppliers of the turbine engines on which its fleet relies, Ishchenko says, despite all the “pompous” claims of Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, someone who has proved himself “a master of personal PR” but not of the military. His promises have proved in all cases “illusory.”
In his 1800-word article, Ishenko provides details on various classes of ships and traces the problems back more than a decade. But his overall conclusion is devastating: for a Russian analyst to refer to Tsushima is equivalent of an American one talking about Pearl Harbor.