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The Russian navy ship Smolny, with about 400 Russian sailors aboard, leaves the port of Saint-Nazaire, France, Dec.18, 2014 (AP photo by Laetitia Notarianni).

Russia Uses Naval Revival to Reassert Global Reach

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Russia has been skillfully using its ground forces to support pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine and keep NATO guessing over Russian intentions in that country, the Baltic states and Moldova. In addition, Moscow’s air force has for the first time since the Cold War sustained a high tempo of operations in NATO’s vicinity for more than a year. But the revival of the Russian navy has been another key element of Moscow’s use of military force to press its great power status.

Naval considerations were actually a major factor driving Moscow’s insistence on maintaining control over Crimea. The naval base at Sevastopol provides the Russian fleet with key access to the Mediterranean and, through it, the Balkans and Middle East. But the re-emergence of the Russian navy predates the Ukraine crisis. Since the 2008 war with Georgia, Russia has maintained a continuous strategic patrol of its nuclear missile submarines, deployed ships to fight pirates in the Gulf of Aden and conducted high-profile exercises in the Western Hemisphere, the Mediterranean and the Asia-Pacific region. The current situation contrasts with the general absence of Russian warships from the high seas a decade ago. ...

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