Moscow: The Russian navy today hoisted its flag on a new nuclear powered submarine intended to form a key part of the country`s future nuclear deterrent. It is part of an ambitious weapons modernisation effort that comes as the military is preparing for a naval exercise off Syria`s shores.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the war games in the Mediterranean will be the biggest such exercise since Soviet times and involve ships from all four Russian fleets. The maneuvers have been seen as a demonstration of Russian naval power and a show of support for an old ally, whom Moscow has shielded from international sanctions.
Shoigu made the statement after commissioning the new Yury Dolgoruky nuclear submarine, which carries 16 Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles. It is the first of a new series of Borei-class submarines that will replace older Soviet-built ships. Another submarine of the same type is currently undergoing sea trials and two others are now under construction.
President Vladimir Putin congratulated the Yuri Dolgoruky`s crew during a conference call today, hailing the ship as a "powerful weapon that will guarantee our security."
"Submarines of that class will become an important element of sea-based strategic forces, a guarantor of global balance and security of Russia and its allies," Putin said.
Commissioning of the new submarines is part of an ambitious arms modernisation programme that envisages spending over 20 trillion rubles (USD 657 billion) on new weapons through 2020.
Putin said today that 4 trillion rubles (USD 132 billion) of that money will be spent on commissioning the new submarines and other navy ships. "Modernisation of the navy is one of the most important priorities in our work to strengthen the armed forces," he said.
Putin said the navy will commission the total of eight Borei-class ICBM nuclear submarines and eight nuclear submarines of a different Yasen class intended to hunt for enemy ships.