July 30, 2012
President Vladimir Putin oversaw the start of construction of one of Russia’s newest generation submarines on Monday and vowed to boost nuclear naval forces to safeguard the country’s position as a leading sea power.
Warning that its navy would protect top energy producer Russia’s interests in the oil-rich Arctic, Putin led the ceremony to begin building the submarine Prince Vladimir, named after the ruler who founded a precursor state to modern Russia.
The vessel is the fourth Borei class submarine, designed to carry one of the country’s newest and most powerful intercontinental nuclear missiles, the Bulava, or Mace.
“We believe that our country should maintain its status of one of the leading naval powers,” Putin told a meeting of naval commanders and government officials at the sprawling Sevmash shipbuilding yard in northern Russia.
Invoking Cold War rhetoric, Putin took a stab at the United States nuclear submarine forces, which Moscow carefully watched across the Atlantic Ocean for decades.
“First of all we are talking about the development of the naval part of our strategic nuclear forces, about the navy’s role in maintaining the strategic nuclear parity,” he said.
Putin is working to make the submarines and the missiles they will carry a cornerstone of the Russian navy, which will receive nearly a quarter of the 20 trillion roubles ($621.31 billion) to be spent by the end of the decade.
After nearly two decades characterized by a lack of funding, Russia is pushing to modernize its fighting forces, and redesign its armaments.
Putin said that Russia will have eight such Borei submarines by 2020, by which time the navy will have received 51 new ships.