Battle Reading the Russian Pacific Fleet 2023 - 2030
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On 21 May 2023, the Red Banner Russian Pacific Fleet (RUSPAC) marked its 292nd anniversary. Russian naval presence in the Pacific maritime theatre dates back to 1731, when the country formally established its first naval footprint on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
RUSPAC remains the least analysed and assessed Russian naval fleet. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, there was a continuous decline in interest of developments in the Russian navy. This led many to conclude that Russia has lost its power projection capability in the Indo-Pacific.
Over the past two decades, there has been a gradual reanimation of Russian naval power in the Pacific. This has occurred in the context of the intensification of the RUSPAC operational activity, including out-of-area deployments. This ongoing process of force modernisation has occurred against the backdrop of escalating strategic rivalry between Russia and the United States of America (US), as well as Washington’s European and the Indo-Pacific allies, including Australia.
This paper will critically review major trends in RUSPAC force modernisation, its qualitative transformation, operational activities and engagement with foreign navies, with a particular focus on China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). This study concludes with a reflection on potential implications for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and allied navies in the Indo-Pacific.
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