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 Sunday, 5 January, 2003, 21:08 GMT
Russia's navy faces huge cutbacks
Aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov
Much of the fleet is now unseaworthy
The Russian navy is to scrap one-fifth of its fleet because of a chronic shortage of funds.

Under the proposals, dozens of ships will be decommissioned to free up money to use on the navy's best vessels.

The submarine Kursk
The Kursk accident severely damaged the prestige of the navy
A senior Russian naval officer, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, said the state simply could not afford to maintain its historic fleet.

Many of the navy's ships were built in Soviet times, when speed and not quality was seen as key.

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Moscow says the announcement will do little to revive the Russian navy's international image, which was tarnished following the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000 with the loss of 118 crew.

She adds that a decade or more of chronic under funding means that much of the fleet is now unseaworthy - more of a junkyard, as one analyst put it, than a navy.

New ships

In an interview with the newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda, Admiral Kuroyedov said the navy was receiving just 12% of the budget it needed to keep its ships afloat.

But despite the cuts, the navy has continued to commission new ships. Admiral Kuroyedov said it would be receiving several nuclear and diesel submarines, and surface ships, over the next few years.

The admiral's comments are in sharp contrast to his ambitious plans of 18 months ago.

The naval doctrine he promoted then proposed reviving Russia as a sea power, and restoring the navy's international prestige in the wake of the Kursk submarine disaster.

See also:

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