Putin: Strengthening the Baltic Fleet

This is a part of a TV interview by President Putin in October, 2006. Putin calls for strengthening the Baltic Fleet in order to secure the Nord-Stream Gas Pipeline.

S. STUPNIKOV: Commander of the large landing ship Kaliningrad and Captain Third Rank Stupnikov:

Hello Vladimir Vladimirovich. Last years the Navy’s fleet began to revive, new ships are being built, long-range campaigns have been renewed. As the Supreme Commander in Chief, what tasks would you assign to the Baltic Fleet seeing as it plays a special role?

V. PUTIN: What you said was correct and I am pleased to see that in addition to being clear to seamen, and especially military seamen, it is increasingly clear to all Russian citizens that we are paying attention to developing the whole Armed Forces and the Navy in particular.

In the near future we are going to put new nuclear submarines into action, namely ‘Vladimir Mononmakh’ and ‘Iuri Dolgorukii’ and several other installations. We have thought about and studied a construction programme for building naval vessels until 2030, according to the requirements of the Russian Navy. And I do not doubt that this programme will be implemented.

With regards to the Baltic Fleet, than obviously the waters of the Baltic Sea, from the Gulf of Finland towards the west, the part of the Atlantic Ocean that is connected to the Baltic Sea, down to Gibraltar, are key. But we are not setting any excessive or unsolvable tasks before the Fleet.

The Baltic Fleet also has the task of ensuring our economic interests in the Baltic Sea. We have enough of them. The Baltic Fleet has the task of ensuring the security of sea communications. And this is a very evident thing -­ I am referring to the fact that some countries are limiting military transport in the Kaliningrad region. But now since we are launching a train ferry which will undertake this transport over the sea with the help of railway wagons and ferries, this problem has been totally resolved (first and foremost I am referring to the problem of military transport). And the task of the Baltic Fleet is to ensure their safety.

And not only this. In many countries of the world the navy also accomplishes purely economic tasks. Shall we say, the deep-water vessels owned by the British naval forces are used to extract minerals from the ocean shelf in deep-water and to accomplish other tasks.

And here, you know, one of our major priority projects is constructing the North European Gas Pipeline that will run under the Baltic Sea and ensure that our energy resources go directly to our west European consumers. This is a major project, very important for the country’s economy, and indeed for all western Europe. And of course we are going to involve and use the opportunities offered by the navy to resolve environmental, economic, and technical problems because since the Second World War no one knows better than seamen how to operate on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Nobody has similar means to control and to check the bottom, nobody can better accomplish the task of ensuring environmental security. All of this incorporates a few new, yet absolutely crucial directions for the navy’s activities and of course, in this case, in the Baltic Sea.

http://www.kremlin.ru/eng/speeches/2006/10/25/0911_type82915_113064.shtml  .

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