Putin says United States is main threat to Russia as he launches new naval plan

President touts Russia's Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles on the country's Navy Day

Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a Navy Day parade in the Baltic Sea port of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Reuters
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The US is Russia's main rival, said President Vladimir Putin on Sunday as he signed a new naval doctrine that set out Russia's maritime ambitions for areas such as the Arctic and in the Black Sea.

Speaking on Navy Day in the former imperial capital of St Petersburg founded by Tsar Peter the Great, Mr Putin praised the ruler for making Russia a great sea power and increasing its global standing.

Mr Putin made a short speech in which he sold the merits of Russia's Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles, saying that Russia had the military power to defeat any potential aggressors.

Shortly before the speech, he signed a 55-page naval doctrine, which sets out the broad strategic aims of Russia's navy, including its ambitions as a “great maritime power” which extend around the world.

The main threat to Russia, the doctrine said, is “the strategic policy of the USA to dominate the world's oceans” and the movement of the Nato military alliance closer to Russia's borders.

Russia may use its military force appropriately to the situation in the world's oceans should soft powers, such as diplomacy and economic means, be exhausted, the doctrine says, acknowledging that Russia does not have enough navy bases around the world.

Russia's priority was to develop strategic and naval co-operation with India, as well as wider co-operation with other states, according to the doctrine.

“Guided by this doctrine, the Russian Federation will firmly and resolutely defend its national interests in the world's oceans, and having sufficient maritime power will guarantee their security and protection,” the document said.

Mr Putin's speech did not mention the conflict in Ukraine, but the military doctrine envisages a “comprehensive strengthening of Russia's geopolitical position” in the Black and Azov seas.

Relations between Russia and the West have become strain during the five months of the Ukraine conflict.

The doctrine also sets out the Arctic Ocean, which the US has repeatedly claimed Russia is trying to militarise, as an area of importance for Russia.

Russia's 37,650 kilometre coastline, which stretches from the Sea of Japan to the White Sea, includes the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.

Mr Putin said the delivery of Zircon cruise missiles to the Admiral Gorshkov frigate would begin within months. The location of their deployment would depend on Russian interests, he said.

“The key thing here is the capability of the Russian Navy … It is able to respond with lightning speed to all who decide to infringe on our sovereignty and freedom.”

Hypersonic weapons can travel at nine times the speed of sound, and Russia has conducted test-launches of the Zircon from warships and submarines over the past year.

Updated: August 01, 2022, 5:32 AM