UPDATE 2-On Navy Day, Putin Says United States Is Biggest Threat To Russia


(Reorders the headline and lead. This content was produced in Russia, where the law limits coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine.)

ST PETERSBURG, Russia, July 31 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin signed a new naval doctrine on Sunday that labels the United States as Russia’s main rival and sets out Russia’s global maritime ambitions for crucial areas such as the Arctic and Black Sea.

Speaking on Russian Naval Day in the former imperial capital of St. Petersburg, founded by Tsar Peter the Great, Putin praised Peter for making Russia a great naval power and increasing the Russian state’s global reputation.

After inspecting the navy, Putin made a short speech promising that what he touted as Russia’s unique zircon hypersonic cruise missiles warned that Russia had the military clout to defeat would-be aggressors.

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Shortly before the speech, he signed a new 55-page naval doctrine outlining the broad strategic objectives of the Russian Navy, including its ambitions as a “great naval power” spanning the globe.

The main threat to Russia, the doctrine says, is “US strategic policy to dominate the world’s oceans” and the move of NATO’s military alliance closer to Russia’s borders.

Russia can properly use its military might for the situation in the world’s seas if other soft powers, such as diplomatic and economic instruments, become exhausted, the doctrine says.

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Putin did not mention the conflict in Ukraine during his speech, but military doctrine provides for a “comprehensive strengthening of Russia’s geopolitical position” in the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov.

It also outlined the Arctic Ocean, which the United States has repeatedly said Russia is trying to militarize, as an area of ​​particular interest to Russia.

Russia’s vast 37,650 km (23,400 mi) coastline stretching from the Sea of ​​Japan to the White Sea also includes the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.

Putin said the delivery of zircon hypersonic cruise missiles to the Admiral Gorshkov frigate would begin within months. The location of their deployment would depend on Russian interests, he said.

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“The most important thing here is the capability of the Russian navy… It is able to react lightning fast to anyone who decides to infringe on our sovereignty and freedom.”

Hypersonic weapons can travel at nine times the speed of sound, and Russia has conducted previous test launches of the Zircon from warships and submarines in the past year.

In Crimea, Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said Ukrainian troops attacked the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Russian-occupied port city early on Sunday, injuring five personnel. (Edited by Guy Faulconbridge, William Maclean)