Tag Archives: BSF

BSF Gets an Unsat

A BSF Be-12

Kommersant reported Saturday that Defense Minister Serdyukov presided over an unscheduled collegium at which the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) commander received a month and a half to rectify problems identified during an inspection this fall.

The inspection — conducted by Chief Military Inspector, General-Lieutenant Gennadiy Borisov – focused on the state of operational and combat training, the weapons and equipment inventory, logistical and medical support, and fire safety.  Kommersant’s source said the results were unfavorable, and there were deficiencies in many areas.  Serdyukov received the inspection report, and wanted to hear the BSF commander speak about it at the collegium.

A Main Navy Staff source told the paper two of three formations inspected at Novorossiysk Naval Base got unsatisfactories in artillery, missile, and torpedo firing, and mine warfare.  The 11th Independent Coastal Missile-Artillery Brigade and 184th Ship Brigade received comments, and General-Lieutenant Borisov also noted problems in the Naval Infantry battalions at Temryuk.

But no one got fired.  Serdyukov gave BSF Commander, Vice-Admiral Aleksandr Fedotenko, and Navy CINC, Admiral Vysotskiy, until February to remedy all defects before a repeat inspection.

On a related note, Monday the Defense Ministry announced BSF Naval Aviation bases at Gvardeyskoye and Kacha will consolidate into the 7057th Aviation Base.  The unified base will have ground attack, ASW, and transport airplanes and helicopters.  Press reports weren’t explict, but Kacha is the 7057th.  So Gvardeyskoye – the 7058th – will apparently close.

Keep Close to Shore

“In essence, after many years of interruption, we are beginning a large shipbuilding program:  by 2020, 4.7 trillion rubles will be directed at reequipping Russia’s Navy.  The aim is clear — it is creating a modern fleet, capable of carrying out all missions — from nuclear deterrence to presence on the world’s oceans, to the security of our economic interests and Russia’s bioresources.”

That’s how Prime Minister Putin put it at Monday’s party conference in Cherepovets.  But Nezavisimaya gazeta and Vedomosti had sharp and pithy criticism for him and for the naval construction program.

NG concluded military voters might be cheered up, but the paper wants to know what the naval construction program is exactly.  Is it the one that’s buying Mistrals that may not be needed from France?  With what and how will the Navy be equipped?

Apparently not aircraft carriers.  And not other large warships either.  They’re built in Russia, but for sale to India and China.  NG continues:

“Our own fleet is being populated piecemeal.  And, as a rule, we’re talking about a mosquito fleet.  Which, of course, is not capable of completing missions ‘from nuclear deterrence to presence on the world’s oceans.’”

The editorial cites former Black Sea Fleet Commander Vladimir Komoyedov who complains about the retirement of the Kara-class CG Ochakov, and claims nothing new is being developed.  It quotes Aleksandr Pokrovskiy who says the Baltic Fleet’s new Steregushchiy and Soobrazitelnyy corvettes are not participating in exercises because they’re only 50 percent combat ready.

So, asks NG, what kind of modern fleet are we talking about?  About past shipbuilding programs, it says:

“They were concrete and understandable — how many and what types of ships must be built.  Today politicians prefer to talk not about this, but about large-scale financial investment in the future fleet.  And in the very distant future at that.  From the point of view of the 2011 and 2012 election campaigns, it could be, that this is correct.  But from the point of view of the country’s security – hardly.”

Vedomosti takes its turn:

“. . . the idea of turning Russia into a great naval power has agitated the minds of the leaders of the Russian state for more than 300 years already.  The question is how acute this mission is in the 21st century and how Putin’s new slogans correspond to programs already adopted.”
 
“But the thing is not just the quality of the state program [of armaments], but also its strategic aims, which the government’s leader lays out.  We’d like the prime minister to formulate precisely what level of Navy presence in the world’s oceans and what he has in mind for its participation in the defense of bioresources.  Security of mineral and biological resources is an affair for civilian services and maritime border guards . . . .”
The business daily goes on to say corvettes, frigates, and landing ships are capable of completing “understandable and necessary missions.”  Still, it
says:
 
“Many experts consider extravagant the purchase of the Mistrals (four ships cost 2.35 billion euros), intended to support amphibious operations at a great distance from native shores.  Some admirals and VPK directors called for development of aircraft carrier groups.  Similar projects, the cost of which stretches to tens of billions of euros, will cause curtailment of construction of ships needed for the fleet, overloading and technological breakdowns in Russian shipyards.  In any case, Russia’s main problems have to be resolved on land.”
Sound advice given that the procurement problems of the Ground Troops and Air Forces, not to mention the RVSN, are just as serious and urgent as the Navy’s (if not more so).
 

VDV on Amphibs

By way of follow-up . . . late last May, VDV Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov told the press his forces have embarked in Black Sea Fleet ships for joint training since the Georgian conflict.  Yesterday RIA Novosti reported on such a joint exercise.

More than 1,500 airborne troops and nearly 100 pieces of equipment are participating in tactical exercises with BSF ships near Novorossiysk.  The VDV are from the 108th Guards Airborne-Assault Regiment, 7th Airborne-Assault Division.

Specifically, the VDV spokesman said:

“On Wednesday nearly 30 airborne combat vehicles and other combat equipment loaded onto large landing ships of the Black Sea Fleet and debarked in a designated coastal area at the Rayevskiy range near Novorossiysk.”

Exercises will continue until tomorrow.  Reconnaissance company personnel will airdrop near Rayevskiy today.  The drop was delayed by bad weather, according to the VDV spokesman.  Two battalions conducted mountain combat training yesterday, and will conduct night firings today.

RIA Novosti didn’t indicate which BSF ships are carrying the VDV.  But Ropucha II-class LST Azov and Alligator-class LST Nikolay Filchenkov were active in the first days of this month during an inspection by Navy CINC, Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy.  The ships worked with the BSF’s Naval Infantry Brigade at the Opuk training range.

Russia Not Likely to Buy Ukraina

Slava-class CG Ukraina

Will Russia buy the aging, semi-finished Slava-class CG Ukraina?  Probably not, unless the price is really right, i.e. basically zero.  It’s unlikely Russia will pay Ukraine to complete the cruiser because Russian shipyards have suggested towing it to Russia, refurbishing, and updating there. 

The questions are compelling only because of a recent video, varying reports about the ship and a possible deal, and what this all says about Moscow’s military procurement.

Military parity highlighted Podrobnosti.ua’s video.  Like the photo above, the video shows a major combatant in declining condition.

Nevertheless, according to recent ITAR-TASS, Ukraine’s Defense Minister is optimistic Kyiv and Moscow will finish Ukraina together.  And he claims the ship is 95 percent complete.

By way of review, Ukraina is a 1970s- or 1980s-vintage design being constructed as Fleet Admiral Lobov at Nikolayev’s [Mykolayiv's] 61 Communards Shipbuilding Plant when the USSR collapsed.  Kyiv failed to find a foreign buyer for the ship, and reportedly spends $1 million every year maintaining it.  So that doesn’t mean a plethora of options or a very strong negotiating position for the Ukrainian side.

Talk of Russia buying Ukraina peaked last year in the wake of the base agreement extension between Moscow and Kyiv.  News outlets noted that the acting chief of the Russian Navy’s Technical Directorate inspected the cruiser and declared it 50 percent ready.  He said Ukraina would need 15 billion rubles for repairs and 35 billion for modernization – $1.7 billion in all.  The Navy’s 50 percent sounds a lot more like the 70 or 75 percent we’ve been hearing for many years than the Ukrainian Defense Minister’s 95 percent.

Reported pricetags for Ukraina, in its current shape, start at $70 or $80 million and run to ridiculous numbers.  In January, Argumenti.ru reported the Russian Defense Ministry would not pay scrap metal prices for Ukraina, but commented that Moscow would accept the ship as a gift.

Then there’s also the issue of whether the Russian Navy really needs it.  It’s an issue often forgotten in procurement debates.  Granted Ukraina is a something of a special case.  But it should also be a pretty easy decision.

Novyy region quoted a couple opinions last May.  Former Black Sea Fleet Commander Vladimir Komoyedov said:

“The ship hasn’t aged 15-20 years yet according to its capabilities.  However, it needs, of course, to be deployed in the ocean, in open theaters, and not in the Black Sea, not in the Baltic — there just isn’t sufficient space for it there.  The ships [Slava-class] are very good, not at all badly designed.  It can’t be said this cruiser belongs just to Ukraine alone.  Ukraine’s share of it, as far as I remember, is 17, a maximum of 20 percent.  Therefore the question’s about the purchase not of a full ship, but of a share — all the rest belongs to Russia.  The purchase issue has stood for a long time, and it needs to be resolved once and for all.  If such a decision is made, it’ll be the right one.  It’s better than the tin can Mistral by a factor of two.”

Defense analyst Aleksandr Khramchikhin, on the other hand, said:

“It’s very hard to understand who needs this ship now.  Undoubtedly, for our fleet which is shrinking into nothing, now such a cruiser has already become pointless.  We have to begin, so to speak, from below, and not from above, not with cruisers, but with frigates at least.  Moreover, these cruisers have a very narrow anti-aircraft carrier mission.  They were built exclusively for war with American carrier battle groups.  It doesn’t seem to me that this mission is all that acute for us now.  Therefore, it’s hard for me to comprehend why we need this ship, and where to put it if it is finished.”

All that said, the Russians might buy Ukraina anyway.  If they do, it’ll indicate a new State Program of Armaments gone awry in its first year.

Southern MD and Black Sea Fleet

BSF Commander Vladimir Korolev told IA Rosbalt today he thinks resubordinating the BSF to the Southern MD will allow for resolving a large number of missions:

“The South-Western Axis which existed in Soviet times allowed us to coordinate the efforts of various services and troop branches.  This experience is extremely opportune today.”

Korolev acknowledged that military reform may progress painfully:

“Fundamental changes in any structure aren’t coped with easily, naturally, they can’t proceed painlessly in an organism as complex as the fleet.  The strategic command isn’t swallowing the fleet, the BSF will become an integral part of it with its specific sphere of missions.  Adjusting the synchronization of the work of structures, processes, mutual adaptation, delineation of authorities — all this is not simple at all, but it’s very important because such large-scale changes are happening for the first time in the history of our Armed Forces.  But we have to go for this in order for the fleet to develop, to get stronger in accordance with modern requirements.”

He called ‘synergistic cooperation’ the main benefit of establishing the common command uniting the fleet and army:

“The fleet, aviation, and ground units won’t compete among themselves, but organically supplement and support each other.  The events of August 2008 showed how important it is to have a powerful grouping of varied forces which have to act according to a single plan, dispose of an entire arsenal of forces and means, including modern communications systems, on the Southern, as well as on any other axis.”

Rosbalt said the BSF and Caspian Flotilla will transform into the Operational Command of Naval Forces (OKMS or ОКМС) within the Southern MD.

Now it seems Korolev’s putting a happy face on this; it won’t be easy.  Establishing real unified commands is just as hard as it is necessary.  Like it or not, the BSF is getting swallowed and subordinated.  It will operate according to plans made largely by green uniforms in Rostov-na-Donu.

If true, what Rosbalt says about the naval ‘Operational Command’ is very significant.  Remember the much-ballyhooed shift to a three-tier command structure?  The tiers are military district, operational command, and brigade.  The name sounds like the fleet’s being reduced from equal of the MD to equivalent of an army, another operational-level command.  Quite a come down.

Proyekt 636 Subs Being Laid Down for BSF

On 17 August, Russian news agencies reported that Admiralty will build a proyekt 636 diesel-electric submarine for the Black Sea Fleet (BSF).  The keel-laying was scheduled for 20 August.  Navy CINC Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy says, in all, three proyekt 636 submarines will be laid down for the BSF before year’s end. 

Krasnaya zvezda writes that, although Admiralty has produced export submarines since 1983, Novorossiysk will be its first proyekt 636 for the Russian Navy.

Ocean TV reports Novorossiysk will be complete in 2013, and the other two in 2014.

The Rubin Central Design Bureau of Naval Technology has made changes in the construction of systems and equipment of the proyekt 636 for its use in the Russian Navy.  RIA Novosti said the new BSF submarines will be armed with the Klab-S antiship cruise missiles.

The Navy Main Staff calls Novorossiysk the start of its long-term plan to restore the BSF’s combat readiness.  The fleet is also slated to receive the Sevastopol, the third unit of new fourth generation proyekt 677 submarines.  According to Krasnaya zvezda, the transfer of Baltic Fleet Neustrashimyy and Yaroslav Mudryy frigates to the BSF is still being worked, and could take place in the next year.

A related aside . . . it’s been almost four months and there’s no mention of the BSF basing report that, on 1 May, President Medvedev ordered Defense Minister Serdyukov to present in a month.

New Commander, Old Fleet

Vice-Admiral Korolev (photo: Novyy Region)

As expected, Northern Fleet Chief of Staff and First Deputy Commander, Vice-Admiral Vladimir Ivanovich Korolev (Королёв) officially replaced Vice-Admiral Aleksandr Kletskov as Commander of the Black Sea Fleet on 2 July.  

Turning 55 next month, Kletskov retired on age grounds, but, as only Kommersant bothered to note, Korolev turned 55 in February, so President Medvedev has either officially extended his service a couple years, or plans to give him another star, allowing him to serve to 60, under the law. 

Novyy Region quoted Navy CINC Admiral Vysotskiy introducing the new BSF Commander: 

“Vice-Admiral Korolev is a competent leader, possessing good personal knowledge and work habits, both in the staff and in command duties.” 

About Korolev’s background . . . after finishing officer commissioning school in 1976, he was assigned to a Northern Fleet nuclear submarine, serving as a division head in the navigation department.  

According to Kommersant, in the mid-1980s, he served in the Gadzhiyevo-based 24th Division of Submarines (24th DiPL).  He eventually served as executive officer and commander of Victor II-class (proyekt 671RT) SSNs  K-488 and K-387.  He completed mid-career Higher Specialized Officer’s Classes in 1987. 

In 1993, he became Deputy Commander of the 24th DiPL, and completed his advanced education at the Kuznetsov Naval Academy in 1995.  He then moved to the Northern Fleet’s Operations Directorate as chief of an unidentified department, then chief of fleet ASW.  

By August 2000, he was Commander of the 24th DiPL, and in 2002 became Commander of the Sayda Guba-based 12th Squadron (24th and 18th DiPLs). 

On 19 November 2007, Korolev became Deputy Commander of the Northern Fleet, and was appointed Chief of Staff and First Deputy Commander in August 2009. 

Media reports haven’t mentioned whether he’s married or has children. 

Korolev faces a large number of unresolved military and social issues in his fleet.  It has an extremely high percentage of old ships that aren’t combat capable.  Some problems with Ukraine persist despite the recent improvement in relations and the Kharkov agreement extending Russia’s Crimean presence to 2042, as well as the promise of 15 new ships and submarines which followed it. 

Independent analyst Aleksandr Khramchikhin told Novyy Region Korolev inherited a fleet in bad shape: 

“The fleet is in a state of disappearance, complete collapse.  It’s obvious the commander needs to stave off this collapse somehow.  But I don’t understand very well how this can be done.  Because these promises of numerous ships don’t correspond very much to the record of recent decades, and it’s extremely hard to believe in them.” 

“The basic mission of the fleet commander is to try to keep the fleet from dying, even though its service life is close to zero.  He can’t do anything because he doesn’t build ships.  The Black Sea Fleet has gone to the limit of obsolescence.  It’s the very oldest of our fleets.  It’s the only one of the fleets in which there are still ships built in the 1960s.  It’s the only one in which there’s been practically no kind of renewal in the post-Soviet period.” 

“It’s hard to understand what missions are being given to the BSF.  Let’s say it can’t even be closely compared with the Turkish Navy in forces, it is so much weaker.  I repeat, our entire Navy is in a state close to collapse, but the Black Sea Fleet is in first place in this regard.” 

An anonymous BSF staff source told Novyy Region Korolev’s first task is to replenish the fleet with new ships, not just secondhand Baltic Fleet units.  His second job is placing orders for repair and construction of ships not just at the BSF’s 13th Factory, but at Ukrainian shipyards as well.  

The fleet’s social problems are next.  It has hundreds of officers whose duties were eliminated, but they can’t be dismissed since they don’t have apartments.  The source says these guys are walking around in uniform, but have no jobs.  Korolev’s fourth task is a related one–returning Moscow Mayor Luzhkov to full engagement in Sevastopol.  Luzhkov is no longer building apartments there as he has in the past owing to a dust-up with the Defense Ministry over the handling of property in Sevastopol.  

Lastly, Korolev has some real naval missions to worry about like securing southern energy routes, the 2014 Winter Olympics, antipiracy operations, and keeping a Russian presence in the Mediterranean. 

Regarding Admiral Vystoskiy’s promise of new ships and submarines for the BSF, Moscow Defense Brief analyst Mikhail Barabanov told Kommersant the civilian and military leadership may see the fleet’s reinforcement a priority because it may more likely see real combat action than the Northern and Pacific Fleets.  

A Kommersant BSF staff source describes Korolev’s main mission not as planning for new ships by 2020, but simply supporting the combat capability of a fleet contracting before our eyes.

Korolev Said Next BSF Commander

Vice-Admiral Korolev

Northern Fleet Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff, Vice-Admiral Vladimir Ivanovich Korolev (Королёв or kor-ol-YOV) will replace current Black Sea Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Aleksandr Kletskov when he turns 55 in August, according to a ‘highly placed’ RIA Novosti source in the Navy Main Staff.

Rumors to this effect have been around.  In early June, Rupor.info cited an Interfaks story on this.  But Kletskov deputy Vice-Admiral Sergey Menyaylo was not ruled out as a possible successor.

The RIA Novosti source claimed Kletskov was already on leave, and Korolev participated in last week’s talks between Russian Defense Minister Serdyukov and his Ukrainian counterpart in Crimea.

Korolev looks to be a career Northern Fleet submariner.

Serdyukov on Contract Service

Wednesday Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov appeared before a closed session of the Federation Council’s ‘government hour,’ and answered 30 prepared questions. 

ITAR-TASS reported the upper legislative chamber’s Speaker Sergey Mironov summarized Serdyukov’s presentation as follows:

“Objectively speaking, we received exhaustive explanations on several positions, some answers explained the situation which had called forth serious questions from the senators.”

Mironov added that Serdyukov’s answers:

“. . . did not completely satisfy FC members.  Personally I and many of my colleagues remained with our own opinions about what is happening in the armed forces.”

Defense and Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ozerov delivered the gist of Serdyukov’s answers to the Russian media, although Serdyukov answered some direct press questions after his session with the legislators.

According to RIA Novosti, Serdyukov said:

“We talked about the transition to the new profile, the numerical composition of the armed forces, the new structure, military units which are being created, draft legislation on pay and proposals concerning the provision of housing to servicemen.”

The major news out of Serdyukov’s parliamentary appearance was the report that he denied Russia is abandoning professional contract service or returning to Soviet-style, all-conscript armed forces.  This contrasted with the recent Newsru.com report saying contractees will soon be drastically cut everywhere except in permanent readiness units, as well as with General Staff Chief Makarov’s February admission that contract service has failed. 

Several media sources reported that Serdyukov indicated contractees would increase 50 percent from a current level of 150,000 to between 200,000 and 250,000.  ITAR-TASS reported his words as:

“In the future it [the number of contractees] will grow, there is potential for this.  In the future the number of contractees will grow to 200-250 thousand, such conditions will be created for them so that they can fulfill their duties as real professionals.”

However, BFM.ru and Regions.ru heard it quite differently.  They reported:

“The Russian Army has not abandoned contract service.  Now in the Armed Forces of Russia there are 150 thousand contractees.  At minimum, this number will be preserved.  If the financial potential of the government allows, we will broaden this component.  Ideally, according to our calculations, the quantity of contractees should be about 200-250 thousand.  They should occupy duties demanding good training and knowledge, service experience.”

According to Ozerov and press sources, Serdyukov addressed other miscellany.

The Defense Minister said the LDPR’s recent draft law proposing to allow young men to buy their way out of the draft for 1 million rubles “raises a whole series of issues.”  He claimed this would interfere with the country’s mobilization potential.  He apparently didn’t say how many guys he thought could afford that much, but he must think a lot can, if it could affect Russia’s human mobilization resources.

Despite recent press indicating a strong presumption that Serdyukov is ready to euthanize premilitary Suvorov and Nakhimov schools (much as VVUZy have been paired back), he told the Federation Council that Suvorov schools will be preserved and strengthened.

Serdyukov demurred from the possibility of more Russian bases abroad, calling them an “expensive pleasure.”

He said the military’s 8,000 plus military towns will be reduced and consolidated into only 184, and those cut would be turned over to the oblasts and republics in which they are located.  The Defense Ministry will discuss with RF subjects and local governments the transfer of housing and other social infrastructure in military towns to their jurisdiction. 

This harks back to the late April announcement about constructing new, large ‘core military towns.’  The smaller number of garrisons sounds more appropriate for a million-man army than 8,000, but taking care of those left stranded without utilities and other services in former garrisons is much more troublesome than simply transferring them to the control of oblasts or local governments.

Serdyukov said the Defense Ministry will acquire 51,000, rather than 45,000 permament apartments for servicemen this year.  He doesn’t see any problem with providing service apartments to every military man by the end of 2012.

He regrets that the Defense Ministry’s request for indexing military pay and pensions has not been approved, but he said this issue is not decided yet.

On the Black Sea Fleet, Ozerov said Serdyukov said the fleet’s personnel will be less than the 24,000 stationed there earlier.  He said Serdyukov said he expects the new Ukrainian government to be much more amenable to discussing deliveries of new weapons and equipment of the Russian fleet.

Medvedev Can Wait for His BSF Basing Report

Medvedev and Serdyukov Meeting on 1 May

Whatever the complaints of some Ukrainians, the 21 April deal extending Russia’s basing privileges in Sevastopol is a good deal for Kyiv.  It’s now using the relatively meaningless Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) presence to secure a valuable 30 percent discount on Russian natural gas supplies.  

Moreover, in one suited for the ‘be careful what you wish for’ file, Moscow is also left holding the bag when it comes to the economy and infrastructure of Sevastopol, and much of Crimea as well, instead of Kyiv having to worry about assuming responsibility in a few short years. 

On 1 May, President Medvedev ordered Defense Minister Serdyukov to prepare a plan for developing the BSF’s naval base in Sevastopol, and to conclude an agreement with Ukraine on its social infrastructure.  According to Kremlin.ru, Medvedev said: 

“. . . today I want to touch on an issue with you which has taken on particular acuteness for our country in recent times.” 

“We need to think about the social arrangements for this base, that is very important to us, so that our sailors live in modern, full-fledged human conditions, have the chance for recreation and other opportunities a base is supposed to provide.” 

“So we’re agreed that our base will conclude a corresponding agreement with the Ukrainian side, with Sevastopol.  In accordance with this agreement, special support, social-economic support will be rendered to a series of Sevastopol city programs.” 

“This city is really not foreign to us and we need to think in what way to participate in these programs both along Defense Ministry lines and along the lines of other executive organs and business structures.  That’s the task.” 

Medvedev said Serdyukov should present his plan for approval in a month, and the latter responded that he would. 

Curiously, on 7 May, General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov told RIA Novosti

“A working group’s been created which will evaluate the real condition of the basing point in Sevastopol and make its proposals.  I think this will take not less than two months.” 

“Practically nothing’s been invested there in recent years.” 

One wonders, would Makarov have unilaterally announced that Putin, when he was president, would have to wait an extra month or longer for the plan he ordered? 

Makarov said the Genshtab has no plans to freeze development of other basing points:   

“The fleet has to be.  The more basing points, the better.  And Novorossiysk is one of the key basing points.  And we intend to develop it.” 

Without elaboration, he said the Defense Ministry has modernization plans for the fleet’s ships, submarines, and aircraft to 2020.  Makarov was with Prime Minister Putin visiting the construction work at Novorossiysk.  

Putin Briefed on Novorossiysk

On 24 April, Anatoliy Tsyganok told RIA Novosti conditions at Novorossiysk are not particularly well suited for major base.  He noted it’s only 25 percent complete, and its price tag is continuously rising. 

Nevertheless, Putin reaffirmed Moscow’s commitment to Novorossiysk.  He acknowledged only 13 billions rubles have been spent, and he’s looking at an ultimate cost of 92 billion.  The base is slated for completion by 2020. 

But Moscow, Medvedev, and Putin may need to worry more about new ships and submarines than about infrastructure when it comes to the BSF. 

On 2 May, Anatoliy Baranov in Forum.msk pointed out that there’s practically no fleet there; a minimum of 2 more first rank ships and a submarine are needed for an adequate order-of-battle.  He says the social infrastructure’s not so bad, but 40- and 50-year-old civilian engineers and technicians have to go out with fleet units to conduct training.  What will the Navy do when they retire?  

Rosbalt.ru described a wave of new officer and civilian dismissals in the BSF, which occurred simultaneously with the new agreement with Kyiv.  The fleet, it says, is nothing more than a mixed force division’s worth of units and personnel.   Viktor Yadukha concludes: 

“NATO’s gracious reaction to the BSF lease extension didn’t surprise politicians more.  But if Western special services knew about real plans for its reinforcement, the reaction would have been very severe.” 

Lastly, in today’s Nezavisimaya gazeta, Aleksandr Khramchikhin says: 

“. . . renting empty piers for a great amount of money is not a mistake, but thoughtless, considering how many ships and how well-outfitted a base in Novorossiysk this money could build.” 

He calls today’s BSF a unique collection of floating antiques.  Even if the oldest units were dropped, most BSF ships would still be 20- to 25-years-old.  It will be impossible to avoid sending ships from the 1960s and 1970s off for scrap soon, as has been officially acknowledged.  Khramchikhin recommends placing what’s left at Novorossiysk as a ‘water area security’ (OVR or ОВР) brigade.