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THE 300TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RUSSIAN NAVY
by
Captain First Rank V. Zaikin
Naval Attache, Embassy of the Russian Federation

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great pleasure and a privilege for me to have been invited to comment on the coming Russian Navy anniversary--300 years of its history as a regular force.

On October 20, 1663, the Boyar Duma adopted by a special decree Peter the Great's proposal of the first law on the Russian fleet and this day marked the official date of the establishment of the Russian Navy.

An understanding of the need to create a navy in Russia evolved at the time of the struggle of the people of the country for the integrity, independence, and status of the Russian state as a major world power. History assigned this mission to Peter the Great, thus forever linking further development and the traditions of the Russian fleet to the name of its great founder.

In their 300-year history, Russia and its navy experienced periods of prosperity and decline. However, each time, the navy revived together with the country. The past proved the important role of the Russian fleet in upholding national interests, defending the nation, and bolstering its economic development and international standing.

Part of the credit for the last 50 peaceful years, which became the core of our country's foreign policy based on the balance of power, could be attributed to Russia's modern blue-water naval forces built over the past decades.

Once again, the significance of the navy, with its heroic history and traditions, was reflected in the government's decision of July 1993 to mark the 300th anniversary as a national celebration. Many cultural events and meetings, scientific conferences, historic publications, naval parades, and ship visits were planned and some have already been implemented in the country and abroad during the last two years. As far as I know, some U.S. Navy officers and representatives of historic institutions have participated in some of these activities in Russia. There are confirmed plans of the U.S. Navy to send its representatives to take part in the upcoming festivities in St. Petersburg and Vladivostok.

In Russia, this anniversary of the navy is considered to be an important national and international event that should help strengthen patriotic and spiritual feelings of all generations in Russian stemming from the glorious history of the Russian State.

In the present days of the post-confrontational world, the national security of any state cannot be provided by military means only. Priority should be given to economic, political, diplomatic, and other means of accomplishing this goal. However, the recent history of relations between the states and examples of peaceful solutions in regional conflicts prove that non-military means are effective only when supported by essential military force. It is impossible not to see that military power is still a tool of reasonable policy and a guarantee of national security of any country. Russia is no exception.

Within the Armed Forces of Russia, the important role of the navy has been determined by the geographic factor. Russia is one of the biggest maritime powers, its territory being washed by 3 oceans and 13 seas. Its maritime border exceeds almost twice the land border. 70% of commercial cargo comes by sea. Russia has millions of square kilometers of coastal and economic zone waters, rich in raw materials, food, energy, and other resources, which are of great value today and will be in greater demand in the future.

Today the defense of the country's sovereignty is even more closely tied to protection of its economic interests. Before, these interests in the maritime environment were confined to territorial waters and fishing areas, whereas nowadays growing attention is paid to Russian economic zones rich in natural resources the size of which exceeds the size of an ocean.

In current conditions, the basic tasks of the Russian Navy can be formulated in line with two main strategic concerns:

In peace--"deterrence and naval cooperation;" in case of aggression--"timely defense measures and repelling the aggression."

The concept of "deterrence and naval cooperation" denotes the necessity of having a fleet capable of a clear and convincing demonstration of inflicting unacceptable damage upon any aggressor. This concept suggests that the goal is to preserve the lowest possible level of naval strategic nuclear and conventional forces, providing for security, stability, and predictability of naval activity in oceans and seas. Within this concept, other national security tasks can be carried out: control of Russian territorial waters and exclusive economic zones; guarding economic activity at sea and shipping; participation in military operations carried out in accordance with the resolutions of the UN and other international institutions; military presence in strategically important areas and other tasks.

The directions of naval cooperation are: elaboration and implementation of bilateral and international legal acts and agreements on naval activities; development of up-to-date technology; participation in international humanitarian actions; exchange of maritime information; cooperation in the field of education and training; conducting combined exercises; visits of ships; and coordination of acceptable rules of their organization as well as development of direct linkages between various levels of the command structure.

The basic ideas of timely defense measures and repelling the aggression concept focuses on timely occupation of key positions by naval forces in the period of growing military threat, formation of necessary task forces for operations, and combat actions. The tasks assigned to our forces may include reducing the impact of strikes conducted from oceans and seas against the country's territory and armed forces, denying enemy domination of our coastal waters, and inflicting damage upon military and economic targets.

Speaking closer to the subject of this conference, which is relations between the two navies in the Cold War, all of us understand that it was not the best period of these relations. The past cannot be changed, but it should be studied and appropriate lessons should be learned for the future. The two navies have made the first steps on this way.

During recent years, the whole system of confidence-building measures, high-level meetings, and cooperation in many fields of naval activity has been under development. The U.S. Navy and the Russian Navy confirmed their readiness to enhance and deepen cooperation in a number of areas, among them:

I am convinced that the growing mutual understanding between the U.S. Navy and Russian Navy and our countries will help to make the future world safe and stable.


23 September 2003