According to reports, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned other nations that they will not gain military superiority over Russia.
Putin spoke out on the strength of Russia’s armed forces during a ceremony for World War II veterans, and his statements come at a sensitive time for international relations. The ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine has seen U.S.-Russia relations deteriorate to their lowest point since the Cold War, and his latest statements do not make for encouraging reading.
Russia continues to arm rebels
Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of increasing their military presence in the east of the country with the addition of more tanks and troops. The Russians would appear to be enforcing pro-Russian rebels in the area near Novoazovsk, which many predict will be the next battlefront.
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Novoazovsk is just 25 miles east of the strategic port city of Mariupol. If the rebels can succeed in taking it from Ukrainian government forces it could provide a route through which to link up with the Russian-held Crimean peninsula further south.
The latest developments do not bode well for the survival of a recent peace deal negotiated in Minsk. It is already hanging by a thread after rebels roundly ignored its terms in order to take Debaltseve, a vital railway hub.
Moscow has extensive plans for the upgrading of its armed forces and the militarization of three spheres of Russian influence. According to Moscow, the Crimean peninsula, the port of Kaliningrad and the Arctic region are all of vital importance to counterbalance the growth of NATO power in the region.
So far the Arctic has seen the construction of 16 deepwater ports, 13 airfields and 10 air-defense radar stations, underlining the importance of a region which is estimated to contain around 15% of Earth’s remaining oil, 30% of its natural gas and 20% of its liquefied natural gas.
Russia plans to carry out a massive wave of military modernization, including the construction of 12 ballistic missile submarines and 8 nuclear attack submarines. They could also be joined by a huge new aircraft carrier capable of carrying 100 planes.
However Russia’s plans could be thrown off by country’s economic situation. Economic sanctions and low oil prices have ravaged its coffers, and even before the ruble crash some senior figures were worried.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov expressed his misgivings back in October, and the situation has become a lot worse since then, however Putin seems set on expanding Russia’s sphere of influence using military force.