On Navy Day, Putin says United States is main threat to Russia

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ST PETERSBURG (REUTERS) - President Vladimir Putin on Sunday (July 31) signed a new naval doctrine which cast the United States as Russia’s main rival and set out Russia’s global maritime ambitions for crucial areas such as the Arctic and in the Black Sea.

Speaking on Russia's Navy Day in the former imperial capital of St Petersburg, Mr Putin praised Tsar Peter the Great for making Russia a great sea power and increasing the global standing of the Russian state. 

After inspecting the navy, Mr Putin made a short speech in which he promised what he touted as Russia’s unique Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles, cautioning that Russia had the military clout to defeat any potential aggressors.

Shortly before the speech, he signed a new 55-page naval doctrine, which sets out the broad strategic aims of Russia’s navy, including its ambitions as a “great maritime power” which extend over the entire world.

The main threat to Russia, the doctrine says, is “the strategic policy of the USA to dominate the world’s oceans” and the movement of the Nato military alliance closer towards Russia’s borders.

Russia may use its military force appropriately to the situation in the world’s oceans should other soft powers, such as diplomatic and economic tools, be exhausted, the doctrine says.

Mr Putin did not mention the conflict in Ukraine during his speech but the military doctrine envisages a “comprehensive strengthening of Russia’s geopolitical position” in the Black and Azov seas.

It also set out the Arctic Ocean, which the United States has repeatedly said Russia is trying to militarise, as an area of particular importance for Russia.

Russia’s vast 37,650km coastline, which stretches from the Sea of Japan to the White Sea, also includes the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.

But the Kremlin chief said he had signed a new navy doctrine, the details of which were not published, and touted the Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles as unique in the world.

"The delivery of these (missiles) to the Russian armed forces will start in the coming months," Mr Putin said. "The Admiral Gorshkov frigate will be the first to go on combat duty with these formidable weapons on board."

"The key thing here is the capability of the Russian navy... It is able to respond with lightning speed to all who decides to infringe on our sovereignty and freedom."

The location of their deployment would depend on Russian interests, he said.

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 over the past year.

In Crimea, Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said Ukrainian forces struck the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the Russian-held port city early on Sunday, wounding five members of staff.

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