Russia’s warship construction may be on the rise again, but the Russian naval mission of the 21st century appears markedly evolved from the Soviet naval mission of the 20th century.
The maritime-strategy world is getting accustomed to hearing about the growth of the Chinese navy, but then–Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead caught everyone off guard when he announced that the “Russian navy is moving again” during his March 2011 testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee. 1 Several scholars already have noted that Russia is developing the capacity to once again become a maritime threat to Western naval power, particularly in light of the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s support of the 2008 Russia-Georgia War. 2 However, deeper analysis of recent events suggests a counterintuitive conclusion: The slumbering bear is awakening, but this time as a new, less combative and aggressive animal. In terms American naval strategists might appreciate, Russian naval power seems to be heading down largely the same road as that prescribed in our Sea Services’ directive, A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower .