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Sunday, 29 July, 2001, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Russia seeks navy prestige boost
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma
Mr Putin and Mr Kuchma were celebrating Russia Navy Day
By Steve Rosenberg in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he has approved a new naval doctrine aimed at boosting the prestige and effectiveness of the Russian navy.

He made the announcement on Russian Navy Day while in the Ukrainian port city of Sevastopol, still home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

Russia's armed forces have suffered a decade of underfunding and collapse, both on land and at sea.

The Kursk
The Kursk accident severely damaged the prestige of the navy
The military took a heavy blow last year when the Kursk nuclear submarine sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea, taking with it the prestige of Russia's 300-year-old navy.

Since then the Kremlin has talked much about the need for reform and regeneration, but there has been little action.

And few details have been released about the new naval doctrine.

Naval commission

Mr Putin promised that it would strengthen national security and boost Russia's role as one of the world's leading naval powers.

A naval commission is to be set up to co-ordinate policy.

Mr Putin and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma were treated to a spectacular military show entitled Naval Might to the Glory of Russia, featuring everything from the latest submarines to missile launches.

It will, however take more than a show to restore lost glory.

That requires money and a programme of sustained investment, something which the Russian Government can barely afford.

The BBC's Richard Fabb
"Russia's now a tenant, paying rent to dock its ships"
See also:

18 Jul 01 | Europe
Risky Kursk salvage set to start
15 May 01 | Europe
Kursk salvage hit by cash hitch
23 Aug 00 | Europe
Russia's rusting navy
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