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The West Fears Qualitative Improvement in Russian Military

Feb. 3, 2016 (EIRNS)—Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held a teleconference with the leadership of the Russian military on Tuesday to review the progress of Russian military modernization programs. The proportion of modern equipment in the Aerospace Forces has now reached 52 percent, with further deliveries of Su-35 fighters and Su-34 bombers, and Ka-52 and Mi-28N strike helicopters. They also discussed the resumption of production of Tu-160 strategic bombers (13-16 are currently in service), the implementation of automated planning systems and programs to improve the manning of the armed forces in general, among other things.

The Russian Defense Ministry statement on the meeting makes it all sound so prosaic; it is anything but. Military analysts in the West have taken note of the qualitative improvement of the Russian armed forces, to include the development and capabilities that have no analogue in Western military forces. Russia’s submarine fleet is now particularly feared, much more so than during the Cold War, when the Soviet union had a lot more submarines. NATO submarines are seeing "more activity from Russian submarines than we’ve seen since the days of the Cold War," Royal Navy Vice Adm. Clive Johnstone, commander of NATO’s Maritime Command told IHS Jane’s. Johnstone added that NATO submarines are encountering "a level of Russian capability that we haven’t seen before." The submarines the Russians are building are much better than anything they had before. "Through an extraordinary investment path not mirrored by the West," Russia has made "technology leaps that [are] remarkable, and credit to them," Johnstone said. As such, modern Russian submarines "have longer ranges, they have better systems, they’re freer to operate."

And it’s not just the hardware. The Russian navy has also invested in the professionalism of its manpower, an investment seems to have paid off—NATO has "seen a rise in [Russian Navy] professionalism and ability to operate their boats that we haven’t seen before," Johnstone said. "That is a concern."

Johnstone’s comments follow, by days, an article in the Jan. 31 London Independent, which reported on the "shock" felt by Western military leaders who expected Russia’s military deployment to Syria to fail in short order, but instead have watched the Russian military sustain a complex operation at a high operational tempo for four months now. Russian military jets have, at times, been carrying out more sorties in a day in Syria than the US-led coalition has done in a month," The Independent reported.

"The Russian navy has launched ballistic missiles from the Caspian Sea, 900 miles way, and kept supply lines going to Syria. The air defenses installed by the Russians in Syria and eastern Ukraine would make it extremely hazardous for the West to carry out strikes against the Assad regime or Ukrainian separatists."

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