Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday other countries should not have the illusion that they can attain military superiority over Russia, Interfax reported.
“No one should have the illusion that they can gain military superiority over Russia, put any kind of pressure on it. We will always have an adequate answer for any such adventures,” he was quoted as saying in an address dedicated to the Defenders’ of the Fatherland Day holiday next week.
Putin’s assertions follow a series of moves by Moscow to bolster the overall standing of the Russian military. On December 26, 2014, Putin signed off on a new military doctrine that listed NATO as Russia’s main existential rival while extolling the value of further militarization of three main spheres of forward Russian power.
The three geopolitical front lines that Russia seeks to reinforce are the Arctic region, the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad which neighbors Poland on the Baltic Sea, and the recently annexed Crimean peninsula. Moscow views each of these regions as critical for checking the expansion of NATO power while also serving as forward bases for Russian military and economic expansion.
The site of the most concerted Russian militarization effort so far has been the Polar Arctic region, which the US estimates contains upwards of 15% of the earth’s remaining oil, 30% of its natural gas, and 20% of its liquefied natural gas.
In the Arctic Russia has undertaken a construction blitz which includes the construction of 16 deepwater ports, 13 airfields, and ten air-defense radar stations along the coast. Moscow has also created the Joint Strategic Command North, which the Polish Institute of International Affairs notes will include a naval infantry brigade, an air defense division, an Arctic mechanized brigade, and missile defense systems.
In Kaliningrad, the AP reports, Russia briefly deployed high precision mobile Iskander ballistic missiles. Simultaneously, Russia now has a major naval base, air defense missiles, and long-range bombers based in the Crimean peninsula.
As part of its massive goal of military modernization, Russia plans to construct and introduce into service 12 new ballistic missile submarines in addition to an additional eight nuclear attack submarines by the 2020s, Russian Military Reform reports.
Russia’s government-owned Krylov State Research Center also claims to be making strides toward the construction of a massive new aircraft carrier that could carry 100 planes. The carrier would complement Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov, the country’s only carrier, which faces frequent operational problems.
However, all of this bluster belies Russia’s own dire situation. Moscow’s economy has continued to take a beating from a mixture of economic sanctions and falling oil prices, thereby constricting the country’s ability expand its military without putting significant strains on other portions of its economy.
In October, before Russia’s ruble crash, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov expressed his concern as to the government’s ability to pay finance the country’s grandiose defense plans.
“When we were adopting the defense program, the forecasts for the economy and budget revenues were completely different. Right now, we just cannot afford it,” he told Reuters.