Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Buildup

Russia is ambitiously pursuing its State Armaments Procurement Program.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Buildup

[By LT Alex Schneider]

A Neglected Black Sea Fleet

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia’s naval fleets have been severely neglected. Corruption, defense budget shortfalls, and higher military priorities are among the factors that have prevented the modernization and buildup of the Russian navy. Of the four separate naval fleets—the Baltic, Black Sea, Northern, and Pacific Fleets—Russia’s Black Sea Fleet remains one of the most neglected and obsolete. The 2008 Russo-Georgian war revealed to Russia the need to modernize and increase the size of its Black Sea Fleet, which was reinforced during the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea when NATO naval presence increased in the region.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea was an authoritative strategic coup by Russia that had two immediate effects: it removed Kiev’s ability to constrain Russia’s Black Sea Fleet buildup and modernization, and it increased the size and strength of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Prior to Crimea’s annexation, Kiev and Moscow had an agreement known as the Kharkov Agreement, which was signed into effect on April 21, 2010 by Dmitry Medvedev, then the Russian president, and Viktor Yanukovych, then the Ukrainian president. Under the Kharkov Agreement, Russia leased the Black Sea Fleet from Ukraine, which was primarily located in Ukraine’s Sevastopol naval port on Crimea. Through the conditions of the lease, Kiev was able to prevent any buildup or modernization of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet from occurring. By annexing Crimea, however, Russia forcefully freed the Black Sea Fleet from Kiev’s restrictive conditions.

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