Last month the Russian Navy hosted its biennial naval show in St. Petersburg. Usually it showcases Russian naval technology while announcing plans to regain or exceed its Cold War strength.
This time naval commander-in-chief Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky made a startling admission: the Russian shipbuilding industry had so declined that he was interested in foreign-built warships, including French carriers and amphibious ships and even German-built diesel submarines. A Russian correspondent, reporting on what he called the irreversible decline of the Russian fleet and its supporting industry, visited the Rubin submarine design bureau, responsible for numerous Soviet-era nuclear-powered submarines and also for the widely-exported Kilo-class boats. He claimed that most of its offices were either empty or rented out to other concerns. The correspondent also pointed out that any hope of rebuilding the fleet is a fantasy now that income from the main Russian source, oil and other mineral sales, has slowed badly due to the international economic crash and, it seems, the bursting of an oil bubble.