“We have left ourselves vulnerable to devastating attacks …”

Warner Todd Huston   December 29, 2015

One of the oft-repeated truisms that many pass around about Russia today is that it is once again on the verge of collapse. But if what the U.S. Navy is reporting about the Russian navy is correct, that “collapse” may not be as imminent as so many want to believe.

Just as an example of some of the “collapse” stories about Russia, in April Business Insider reported that the Russian banking sector is “about to implode.” Then in August, CNBC insisted that the Russian economy is on the verge of collapse. That was preceded by a report in The Week blaring that the Russian navy is collapsing.

It’s the latter report that the U.S. Navy is seeking to discourage policy makers from believing. After decades of neglect, Putin is now set to pour billions of rubles into revitalizing the great bear’s maritime military.

According to an extensive new U.S. Navy study reported by the Washington Free Beacon, the Russian navy is initiating a huge modernization plan and will be adding advanced submarines with upgraded nuclear-armed cruise missiles to its fleet. The results, the Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz writes, could be “devastating.”

The huge military spending plan includes three new classes of submarines and a list of new types of warships that a report from the Office of Naval Intelligence warns will “provide a flexible platform for Russia to demonstrate offensive capability, threaten neighbors, project power regionally, and advance President Putin’s stated goal of returning Russia to clear great power status.”

The report notes that Putin plans to restore his navy to Soviet strength by the year 2020.

The 68-page Office of Naval Intelligence study, titled “The Russian Navy: A Historic Transition,” also notes that Putin is selling advanced weapons to other countries, making the world a more dangerous place by arming lesser nations with high-tech weapons.

“Recent sales have included Kilo-class submarines to Algeria and Vietnam, Gepard-class frigates to Vietnam, and a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier to India. Sales of high performance Club missiles — the export version of the Kalibr family of missiles — have been underway for over a decade,” Gertz reports.

“This proliferation of high grade weapons is one of the most troubling aspects of Russian Federation adventurism worldwide,” the U.S. Navy report says.

The report also says that Russia plans to add to its fleet eight more of its nuclear-powered Severodvinsk class attack submarines.

But as the buildup continues in Russia, many charge that U.S. officials have not taken the Russian navy seriously enough and missed out on taking note of Russia’s growing fleet. This means that U.S. war planners have not included the new capabilities in security strategies.

Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon strategic nuclear policymaker, is one of those critics.

“My main criticism is the lack of attention to the Russian theater and tactical nuclear capability,” Schneider told the Free Beacon. “Thirty years ago we had an in-kind deterrent against the Russian use of tactical nuclear weapons. This is now entirely gone. We have left ourselves vulnerable to devastating attacks by Russian nuclear forces against the Navy.”