The Caspian flotilla will be transferred from Astrakhan to Dagestan Kaspiisk. This was stated by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at a meeting with the leadership of the department. "A decision has been made to transfer the Caspian flotilla to Kaspiisk. There we have a huge construction site: piers, piers, service points, housing. The number of our officers and military personnel will multiply, "the defense minister said.
The Ministry of Defense announced the beginning of the construction of a military port in Kaspiisk last fall. The first stage of construction of the Caspian Fleet's bases will be completed in 2019, First Deputy Defense Minister Ruslan Tsalikov said in September 2017.
The adviser to the chief of the General Staff, Admiral Igor Kasatonov, who headed the Black Sea Fleet in 1991-1992, commenting on this decision by RBC, noted that the transfer of the flotilla is "not a fast process". This decision is related to the location of the current base of the flotilla, he added. "Astrakhan is located 100 km from the Caspian Sea, what kind of a naval base, if you have to walk six hours on the river. In addition, in winter the river freezes, and in the summer it becomes shallow - it is possible not to get out at all, "the admiral explained.
What is the Caspian Flotilla
The Caspian flotilla is a naval component of the Southern Military District, indicated on the website of the Ministry of Defense. It ensures the national-state interests of Russia: it conducts antiterrorist measures, deals with the protection of trade, the protection of state interests in the oilfields. The fleet includes several brigades and divisions of ships, part of coastal troops.
The Caspian flotilla includes the Dagestan and Tatarstan missile ships, the small missile ships Grad Sviyazhsk, Uglich, small artillery ships Astrakhan, Volgodonsk, Makhachkala, MAK-160, and also artillery, rocket, landing, hydrographic boats and tugboats.
"Powerful fist" and good weather
Since the late 80s of the XIX century Baku was the main base of the Caspian flotilla. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fleet was divided between the Caspian states of the CIS. The Russian Caspian flotilla had to be relocated from Baku to Makhachkala and Astrakhan, which became its main base.
According to Shoigu, the transfer of the flotilla to Kaspiysk "is a serious component of security in the region." The former commander of the Black Sea Fleet, the retired Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, said that the transfer of the flotilla would create a "powerful fist" on the Caspian Sea. "All forces will be concentrated in one place, and the fleet will not depend on weather conditions," said the admiral.
With the fact that the decision is taken out of climatic considerations, the military expert, Colonel Mikhail Khodarenok, agrees. "After the collapse of the USSR, the flotilla was transferred to a completely unprepared place - Astrakhan. At the same time, they did not take into account that the Volga delta and the northern part of the Caspian Sea freeze. The ships of the Caspian flotilla are small, not reinforced class. And in principle, in severe frost, they may not get out of the base, "the military expert explained to RBC. According to him, it is likely that some point of basing in Astrakhan will still remain.
Astrakhan is inconvenient for the basing of the fleet, said Victor Murakhovsky, editor-in-chief of the magazine Arsenal of the Fatherland. "The Volga Delta not only freezes. There it is necessary to maintain the fairways, since the depths are small and very complex hydrological conditions. In addition, Astrakhan is going to develop a commercial port of the Caspian region, which could theoretically affect the operational readiness of the military, "Murakhovsky explained.
He recalled that in Dagestan was the point of basing the fleet. According to the location of Dagestan - more suitable place, the military expert believes. "Terms of operational use are significantly improved. In particular, the exit for patrolling territorial waters is becoming easier, "Murakhovsky said. According to him, the funds for the construction of the facility are included in the state program of armaments.
Oil and Syria
Except for the failed transfer of the main forces of the Black Sea Fleet from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk, it has been the first time since the 1990s that the main fleet base has been changed. The need to relocate the Black Sea Fleet has disappeared in connection with the annexation of the Crimea to Russia in 2014.
The Caspian flotilla is important for Russia both from the geopolitical and the military-strategic point of view, Admiral Igor Kasatonov noted in a conversation with RBC. "There is no doubt about that. And in spite of the fact that the Caspian Sea is closed, it allows solving strategic tasks in such conflicts as, for example, in Syria, "he said. During the Syrian campaign, the Russian military launched several launches of Caliber rockets from the water area of the Caspian Sea at the facilities of the Islamic State banned in Russia.
At the same time, with internal political events, for example, with the recent change of the head of Dagestan, the redeployment of the Caspian flotilla is not connected in any way, the independent military expert Colonel Andrey Paiusov is sure. According to him, the relocation was discussed under the former defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov and correspond to the plans for the construction of the Navy until 2020.
"The main role here is played by climate, shipping, economy and logistics. In addition, territorially the ships will be closer to the areas of operational deployment, "the expert said. He recalled that among the main tasks of the fleet are ensuring the safety of navigation, fishing and oil production.