This is part two of my interview with Jonas Kjellén. We particularly discussed the Baltic Fleet’s abilities for minelaying and amphibious operations, but other types of maritime operations were touched on as well.
Amphibious and landing forces
Russia seems determined to build new large universal landing ships for the Navy. Although the project is still not approved, government officials repeatedly express support for the idea. Earlier, minister of trade and industry Denis Manturov said that a domestic project for universal landing ships is within plain sight, and now deputy prime minister Yury Borisov says that Russia needs such ships and will build a still undecided number of them. That reports TASS.
It seems fair to assume that this number will be two. Russia originally ordered two Mistral-class ships from France, and the Navy’s representative on weapon acquisition vice admiral Viktor Bursuk said last year that Russia needs two such ships before 2025.
Universal landing ships have been a missing piece in the structure of Russia’s navy since France canceled the sale of the Mistral-class ships back in 2015. The ships were built and ready for delivery, but such a sale had become politically impossible for France in the light of the Ukraine war. Eventually the two ships ended up in the Egyptian navy instead.
So for now, Russia’s most modern landing ship is the newly commissioned Ivan Gren. But this ship is not nearly as capable as the universal landing ships that Russia has in mind. The Mistral-class is more than three times bigger than Ivan Gren, so it can carry a lot more. In addition to this, it is capable of functioning as a robust command platform, and it has enough helicopter capacity to conduct airborne landings.
The sketching work for the new Russian universal landing ships began back in March. The Mistral-class has a displacement around 21,300 tons loaded, a length of 199 meters, a width of 32 meters, and a draft of 6.3 meters. It can carry up to 900 troops for short periods of time and up to 59 vehicles. To this comes 16 heavy or 35 light helicopters. A previous Russian attempt to sketch up a Mistral replacement was the Priboy model, which was made in 2015. This ship would be noticeably smaller than the Mistral-class, so it will be interesting to see where they land with the real ship.
The second rotation of American Marines has arrived in Norway, reports Marine Corps Times:
The Norwegian government has approved six-month rotations of about 300 Marines in Norway through 2018.
The Marines also store military equipment in caves near Trondheim, Norway, to make sure that a Marine Air-Ground Task Force has what it needs for cold weather training, crisis response or a humanitarian assistance mission, said 2nd Lt. Brett Lazaroff, a spokesman for U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe & Africa.
The Norwegian policy differs greatly from neighboring Sweden, which at least officially insists on neutrality, and Denmark that still seems ambivalent to the new security dynamics in the region.