Staunton, June 22 – Until very recently, ships in Russia’s coast guard fleet lost much of the offensive capability they had represented earlier; but now Moscow has changed course by rearming them and thus positioning these ships to support the regular Russian navy in wartime, Aleksandr Mozgovoy says.
In today’s Novoye voennoye obozreniye, the independent journalist said that was symbolized by something that happened a year ago but that was little noted at the time: the coastal ships for the first time in years were not part of the June 30th Navy Day parade in St. Petersburg (nvo.ng.ru/realty/2018-06-22/1_1001_vmf.html).
According to Soviet and Russian doctrine, the coastal defense ships were intended for transfer to the regular fleet during wartime. As a result, they were more heavily armed than they would have to be for coast guard duties. But as recently as a year ago, it appears they were no longer intended to support the navy. Now that appears to have changed.
According to Mozgovoy, that shift reflected a worldwide pattern over the last 25 years; but it appears likely that Moscow has decided to go back to the Cold War model and arm these coastal ships so that they can support naval operations at sea and especially against land targets.
He provides a detailed discussion of the ships in this class in support of his contention.
If the Russian military analyst is correct, that means that many of the Russian coast guard-type vessels in the Sea of Azov which Ukrainian and Western analysts generally have viewed as something other than an offensive threat may now be carrying the kind of weapons that would allow them to support a landing on the Ukrainian littoral.
That the Russians should want to recover this capacity for their coastal ships, Mozgovoy says, is no surprise. Western analysts are calling for a similar rearmament of their coast guard vessels. And so “undoubtedly” the new vessels for the FSB coastal service will carry far more weaponry that their immediate predecessors.
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