Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Kremlin Claims to the Contrary, Russia’s Only Aircraft Carrier Likely to End Its Days as a Casino or as Scrap, Kovalenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 17 – At the end of last year, Russian government outlets repeated their claims that the repair of the Admiral Kuznetsov was proceeding in a timely fashion and that Russia’s only aircraft carrier despite all the problems of the past would be ready to return to full service for the fleet in 2022.

            But photographs show that absolutely no work was done on the vessel during the course of 2020 and that none is going on today, Russian military observer Aleksandr Kovalenko says; and thus, despite all the money being spent and all the hype about progress, there is little or no chance the carrier will ever return to service (

            At present, Russia doesn’t even have a drydock large enough to support necessary repairs and refitting of the ship and so the Kuznetsov in the best case will likely be docked somewhere and be used as a floating casino or in the worst and perhaps more likely case simply scrapped with all its metal going to dumps for possible reprocessing.

            The problems and slow-motion death of the Russian carrier has long been the subject of attention and schadenfreude (,, and

            The problems the aircraft carrier faces are not unique as some defenders of the Russian military try to claim. Rather they highlight far broader problems with the country’s military-industrial sectors, problems that include ensuring adequate funding, corruption, and the Kremlin’s failure to recognize these realities, Pavel Luzin says.

            The independent Russian military analyst says that the Russian defense industry has suffered from many of these problems for years, but the last several have intensified them because of Western sanctions and the need for the government to shift its spending to cope with the pandemic (

            Russian defense firms have tried to cope by increased borrowing from banks, but now they are so overloaded with debt that many will have to use almost any new infusion of cash from the government to service these loans. Only if Moscow gives them significantly more money than it is doing now can they hope to survive.

            According to Luzin, such spending will have to be funded either by having the government make long-term commitments, an approach that it is reluctant to do, preferring to keep control even at the cost of production, or extract still more money from the population, a possible but increasingly risky move given rising poverty.

            As a result, for all the propagandistic bombast about Russia’s military “rising from its knees,” there is a real danger that it will fall back in the coming years and that ever more of its components will suffer the ignoble fate of the Kuznetsov.


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