November 2009 was a month of mixed messages for the Russian Navy. On 16 November President Dmitry Medvedev visited Singapore and Russia's Slava-class cruiser Varyag, shown here, where he spoke of plans to increase naval spending and expand fleet operations. These remarks came in the aftermath of successful Russian deployments to fight piracy off the Horn of Africa and amid talks to purchase a large French amphibious ship for use in the Russian Navy. The month also, however, saw a deadly explosion at a Russian naval arsenal in Ulyanovsk that killed at least eight personnel. Retired Admiral Vyacheslav Popov, former commander of Russia's Atlantic Fleet, seemed far less optimistic than Medvedev when he spoke later in the month and explained that even with an increased defense budget, not enough money is being spent to boost Russian shipbuilding or to keep up with the maintenance of its active warships. Popov warned that without significant changes, most of Russia's already dwindling ocean-going fleet would be forced into retirement by 2015.