Russia continues to add to its military capabilities as complicated geopolitical situations unfold around the world.
Moscow is taking on an increasingly important role on the world stage after a period in the wilderness, and now officials have underlined the country’s commitment to building sufficient military capacity, according to Sputnik News.
Russian Defense Minister underlines commitment to armed forces
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Moscow is adding to its military capacity due to the global political and military situation.
“The main indicators of the plan [activities of the defense ministry] for the current year have been adjusted considering the decisions of the country’s leadership to build combat potential of the Armed Forces and the current military, political situation,” Shoigu said speaking at the Defense Ministry’s meeting.
Equipment is being added in accordance with state defense order-2015 and the need for military infrastructure readiness. Some of the most important sections are Arctic and Kuril Islands infrastructure development and support facilities for the Black Sea and Pacific Fleet submarines.
Moscow increasingly looking to project military power beyond borders
Russia appears to be intent on expanding its military influence to the four corners of Asia, with the Arctic a particular focus for the Kremlin. Activists have campaigned against the militarization of the Arctic Circle, which looks set to be the next disputed area among international powers thanks to its vast reserves of oil.
In the West tensions continue to bubble with NATO due to the conflict in Ukraine, and both sides have engaged in military exercises designed to exhibit combat readiness. In addition Russia has taken on an increasingly important role in Syria, carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State militants and other anti-government groups.
On Tuesday a Russian jet was shot down by Turkish forces who claim that Russia violated its airspace. As a NATO member, Turkey’s action could have grave consequences for world peace, but fortunately there have been no signs of escalation thus far.
Russia becomes important geopolitical player once again
Even prior to Tuesday’s incident, it was becoming increasingly apparent that Russia still has an important role to play in global affairs and boasts the military might necessary to do so. While many observers believed that it was only a matter of time before Western sanctions and low oil prices brought Russia to its knees, President Vladimir Putin continues to defy expectations.
Not only has he skilfully picked his battles in a challenging geopolitical environment, Putin has also shown that Russia is far from dead in the water. Militarily its actions in Syria have been technically impressive, even as airstrikes target groups deemed allies by the U.S. and Britain.
In fact many military experts have been forced to thoroughly reassess their opinion on the Russian armed forces, particularly the Air Force and Navy. In Syria the Russian Air Force is flying as many missions in one day as the U.S.-led coalition does in one month, and has struck a number of significant targets.
Syria campaign demonstrates Russian capabilities
At sea the Russian Navy was derided for its outdated vessels, but it has become evident that Moscow is both retrofitting older ships and acquiring new ones. Particularly impressive is the capability to fire Cruise missiles from inexpensive corvettes and frigates in the Caspian Sea, capable of striking targets over 900 miles away. Western analysts were previously unaware of this capability and the significant capacity for power projection that it affords Russia.
Russia continues to develop new military technologies such as the Armata battle tank and the T-50 fighter jet, both of which are arguably more advanced than their Western counterparts. Moscow has demonstrated a willingness to employ its armed forces to achieve geopolitical aims, and acts with a decisiveness that must surely be the envy of Western leaders who are bound by the weight of alliances and public opinion.
It would be a mistake for Western leaders to continue to disregard the threat posed by the Russian armed forces, especially given the recent demonstration of improved capabilities. Putin has committed to investing in a modernization program, and the introduction of next-generation weapons systems could present problems in a conflict with the U.S. and its NATO allies.
The economic situation may dictate that fewer pieces of equipment can be bought, but the lessons from the past 3 years are evident. Russia continues to improve its armed forces, and has now shown that it can project military power from safe locations such as the Caspian Sea.