Russia’s Used-to-Be Marine Forces


A great nation with an even greater heritage of its own. And I don’t even mean the cultural heritage but the military heritage that the Soviet Union had left behind to be heartily embosomed by successors of the fortune. Country that is half encircled by the sea and that has always been a high-shot in the top of sea-lover countries gradually (well, it could has also been ‘rapidly,’ cause no matter what it doesn’t inflict a wrench to the story) began striking aground in terms of its marine power without even anchoring it.

Even the lamest duck knows that a country’s influence overseas can possibly be weighed only by means of… yeah, that’s right, counting its marine forces units. In the days of Peter the Great it was a task of crucial importance to ‘open a window to Europe.’ But then was then and now is now. At present the biggest country in the world, and some even say the greatest and the strongest country on the Earth, has let cut the boats loose.

With less than 1/5 of its then-marine forces Russia gaspingly tries not to lose hold of the rest. The overwhelming part, almost 4/5 of ‘the sea crusaders,’ was either sold out or junked.

1. ‘Varyag’ is an aircraft-carrying air cruiser; project 1143.6.


Built in 1988 and then, in 1993, according to a treaty between Russia and Ukraine, was gleefully handed over to Ukraine.


In April 1998 was sold to a Chinese company for $20 million with its net value of $5-6 billions. In 2008 it was renamed into ‘Shi Lang.’


2. ‘Minsk’ is an aircraft-carrying air cruiser.


Built in 1975, written off in 1994 and in the end of 1995 successfully towed to the South Korean shore and sold there.


3. ‘Novorossiysk’ is another airplane-carrier.


It was built in 1975-1978 and withdrawn from operational use in 1991. Later it was sold to South Korea.

4. Aircraft-carrying air cruiser ‘Admiral Gorshkov.’


The ship was built in 1987 and removed from operational status in 2004. Sold to India right away.

5. ‘Ulyanovsk’ is a nuclear aircraft carrier with 75,000 tonnage.


The construction works started back in 1988 and was scheduled on 1995, but in less than 5 years funding was cut off and a half-built ship was eventually melt back.

6. ‘Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kunetsov’ is an aircraft-carrying air cruiser and one of the few marine units that have been hopefully left under the tight grip of Russia.


As of now, it is the only ship of its kind on the strength of the navy.

7. Frigates like ‘Komsomolec Ukraini.’


Now there is only one frigate (‘Smetliviy’) extant out of 20 once-to-be ones that are either written off or junked.


8. Helicopter-carrying antisubmarine cruisers:

a) ‘Moskva’ was sold to India and then junked.


b) ‘Leningrad’ was towed to India and junked there.


9. Cruisers, project 1164:

a) ‘Moskva’ is a flagship of Black Sea Fleet.


b) ‘Marshal Ustinov’ is a part of Black Sea Fleet.


c) ‘Varyag’ is a flagship of Pacific Fleet.


d) Fourth one and the last, ‘Ukraina’ cruiser is out-of-order (as well as out-of-money) now. So it just floats still in one of Ukrainian harbors and watches for a chance.



1) Out of seven aircraft-carrying air cruisers just one is battle-ready. Fife of them sold and one junked.

2) Out of two helicopter-carrying antisubmarine cruisers sold two.

3) Out of 20 frigates 19 are written off and melt down or junked.

4) Out of four missile cruisers three are efficient and one is in pre-sale preparation.

Photo and info credits via

55 thoughts on “Russia’s Used-to-Be Marine Forces”

  1. I always admired the beautiful design of Soviet Navy ships. But I did always wonder if they were really just a Potemkin Navy…..they looked sharp but were really mostly non-functional.

  2. Thing is that most of ships built in soviet era are completely obsolete, particularly in terms of electronics.

    For the record, Russia has bought not long time ago several ships (particularly Mistral class transports/helicopter carriers) from the French (with much angriness from the US). They should started being delivered in 2 years.
    And “Admiral Kuznetsov” took part some time ago (i think one year) in joint training session with Venezuelan army (again with much angriness from the US).
    Sometimes i wonder if the cold war is really over ;-))

  3. Poor little ships. I know nothing about the life of a ship, how long it should last, how long a country would need to keep and use a thing, but that seems too short. Maybe they weren’t needed with no more Cold War, maybe Russia needed money? Maybe this is good news? Anyway I just feel sorry for the ships.

  4. Russia is only happy when she is feared.

    Good on Koreans for buying all that metal: Continue to make cheap, reliable cars for me!

  5. 1) Super cool US stealth aircraft has so far been easily spotted by old russian short-range radars. Assymetric response of a kind.
    2) Maybe russians don’t like being feared anymore.

    well, we still have the rifle

  6. The title pic is a german submarine
    You even see the flag 😛
    Many of these units like the Moskva helicopter carrier were obsolete anyway.
    Same for the Kiev class carriers.
    Problem is that many of the large soviet ships were built in Nikolayev, which is now Ukraine.

      • Since the end of the Cold War, Russia has been surrounded by nations that want to compete with it on a friendly basis, some scatty ex Soviet republics which can’t cause any major problems – and China, which we’re not absolutely sure about.

        The richest most powerful neighbours are – to the West – the EU, which will ensure Russia suffers no military threat from that direction; and to the East, the USA and Canada, which also want to avoid military conflict with Russia. It’s bad for profits, don’t you know?

        The various ex Soviet republics outside the EU are more or less unstable and threaten instability which could cause problems for Russia, but only localized minor issues.

        The Middle East – oh, that’s a problem, and Iran’s certainly one of Russia’s neighbours, but we’re all worried about that lot because we’ve no idea *who* they’re going to go for next, could be the USA again next time, couldn’t it?

        The idea that Russia is surrounded by enemies is militaristic propaganda intended to provoke fear in the Russian population so that they will be in favour of high military spending and rather oppressive government.

        Just as Putin wants.

        P.S. Aussie: the USA has lots of subs that’ll survive a nuclear war, no worries mate. Try reading `On the beach’ if you really want cheering up over nuclear war.

        • Fred, I’m too busy for a full reply but you might want to take the rose colored glasses off.

          Maybe you ought to ask your nation to dramatically decrease its arms, seeing it’s surrounded by two oceans and by us Canadians up north and some drug dealers down south.

          You might want to realize that geo-politics is conducted decades in advance.

          You might want to realize that the US is in Russia’s backyard, all over the former republics and if you don’t understand why Russia would be concerned then I really can’t help you. You must be blinded by loyalty to your state.

          As for Iran, why would it attack the US? Do you think they are insane?

        • After the Cold war, the US and EU have already demonstrated several times that they are ready to “protect” their interests with or even without UNO approval. Simply compare a number of local conflicts Russia and US+EU were involved in lately. And as far as “propoganda” is concerned, it is present both in Russia and in US, as well as in Europe.

  7. Do you have any idea what the military doctrine is? Soviet Union never pretended to be the first navy power since its military doctrine never expected the major overseas operations. The purpose of soviet fleets was to protect the shore – Vladivostok, Black Sea and Murmansk. One could achieve it by simply using the missile-carriers. Instead, the main idea of the soviet doctrine was to have enough ground forces to occupy entire Europe even under the global nuclear warfare conditions. The carrier fleets are useless for that and the only way to reach this goal was to produce an incredible number of efficient but cheap and tough tanks. Therefore soviet T-80 and T-90 are better than american M1 since at comparable efficiency they cost much less.

  8. Well I don’t think that in Russia most military is overvalued. I don’t have anything against equipment or troops etc. etc. , but I think you guys are taking military too seriuos. It could be seen that there is no other think that good in Russia.

    • Russia is taking the military too seriously?

      Russia is the largest country on earth, half surrounded by water, as the post states and half surrounded by enemies, and you believe Russia is taking the military too seriously?

      • Just who do you imagine to be Russia’s enemies? Finland? Mongolia? China? Former Soviet republics? Do you consider USA enemy? Are you paranoid?

        • Actually, I’m Canadian, just trying to see from the other side of the fence.

          That someone would question Russia’s concern for its security is mind boggling. This is not a friendly neighbourhoods they’re in.

          The US spends almost a TRILLION a year now on it’s military and you’re wondering why Russia wants to keep up?

          Keep in mind geo-politic is conducted decades in advances. As for enemies, you must be kidding, they clumsily beat Georgia, they have former Soviet republics switching sides all the time and you don’t think Russia has reason for concern?

          Even a Polish Canadia like can understand Russian concern, but then I like understand various perspectives.

          • Russia SMASHED Georgia in the war, Chris. Georgians had around ~ 1000 KIA and died of wounds.

            Georgian military was partially updated 2 NATO standards. But they got slaughtered anyway by Russian airpower and only a few army regiments….

            • The largest military build up in history and you towed your tanks over the Caucasus mountains to invade a country with half the population of Moscow, pathetic. Then Bush got Putin alone at the Olympics and told him to get out, which you did. Didn’t see that on the news over there, did you?

        • Just ask yourself what all US fleets are for? having borders with only mexicans and canadians would not it be better to follow the Monroe doctrine rather than spending money for huge carriers? Pacifism is the best but, however, not realistic

  9. The Russian navy is less able to project power globally than even the /French/ navy. But that’s not what it’s there for: Russia has never tried to be a major sea power.

  10. Guys its not about enemies but if you want to have a say on the global arena, you have to be able to back your words up, doesn’t matter what country you are, if you cant do it economically you should be able to do it by force and if you have nuclear weapons that your country can deliver to any part of the globe everyone will have to listen to your opinion and take it into consideration

  11. The russian saying goes: “sila jest, uma ne nado” – no need for brain if one’s got muscle. And it’s oh so convenient to disguise it as protection against U.S. imperialism, capitalist colonialism and constant threats by nearby aggressive superpowers such as Georgia and Baltic states for instance. A nation whose brains have been washed since 1917, will buy just about anything like that.

    • Don’t forget INTERNAL politics. Many tanks, aircrafts, missiles, ships, even boots are made to keep local interests happy. Military adventures are often undertaken not for clearly defined national interests, but for self-interest of politicians.
      The world is really not such a hostile place. The politicians only want us to believe it is.

    • Russian excuses for a large military, especially in the neighbourhood they’re in, are much better than American excuses for now spending almost ONE TRILLION DOLLARS per year on its military, excuses such as terrorism and “spreading freedom and democracy”.

      Abacus2, with all due respect, please think.

      • Excuses are excuses, better or worse. Excuse is something normal behaviour does not need at all, no matter if given by Russia, USA, Israel or Utopia. Know a man by his deeds.

        • Abacus2, again, with all due respect, please strongly consider that you don’t understand the situation Russia is in.

          Please consider the possibility that perhaps your position is colored by russophobia. Not that russophobia is inherently wrong.

          I am Polish and even I can see why Russia is concerned. If you don’t understand why its remarkable for a Pole to be understanding of Russia (to a point) then you really have no knowledge of the history and situation in the neighbourhood.

          The US has made military allegiances in Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, and various other Russian bordering provinces, plus Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Pakistan.

          The US has made military allegiances with various Middle Eastern countries.

          They have surrounded Russia and China and have placed missiles their backyard, such as in Poland… and you still don’t think Russia, of all countries on the planet, should strive to have a modern military?

          As the great man Howard Buffet said, no nation will create as large a military as the United States does, and then allow it to remain idle. It must always be shaped up for some war, any kind of war, just for the sake of it.

  12. For the fate of the first 2 carriers. Varyag was never actually renamed to anything because it was not officially registered anywhere. “Shi lang” was a chinese internet joke some 2 or 3 years ago. Currently most chinese believe the chinese navy is going to use varyag as a training vessel for new-built aircraft carriers, instead of as an actual capital ship herself.

    Minsk was sold to a Chinese-based entertainment company and rebuilt into a theme park, in the city of Shenzhen, south china. And on the ship, sadly, as long as you pay around $5, you may get russian girls in uniform dancing for you…

      • Tell me (real) Kirov, (real Kirov is dead long time), how wrong can you be? China has capitalist economy and is the fastest growing source of wealth on earth. China is exporting just about everything that can be produced, not grown, produced. What does Russia produce and export overseas aside from weapons and vodka?

  13. …the US has had stealth aircraft for almost 4 decades

    Was it the one downed by an outdated Russian made AAM back in 1998 in Serbia?

    • That was one plane out of many. It was a slight flaw that was fixed immediately after we found out what the problem was.

      • The kind of slight flaw that downed the aircraft. Care to define a catastrophic flaw? The US military is entirely too overconfident. Strained to the max fighting two third world countries (with significant assistance) and still claiming to be able to single-handedly take anyone on. Not true.

        • Pilot on predictable path each day, Yugoslav AA blindly fired six rockets at the plane, one hit. Pilot got away. Americans should have blasted the site with bombs and then then with air delivered mines, that would have prevented the spectacle of civilians dancing on the wreckage. Well, they got lucky and lived.

  14. China isn’t capitalist, but fascist. Free trade of products made by slave labour. With an internal passport system, no one can leave the factory without party permission.

    Of course, some Chinese citizens are more equal than others, but that doesn’t change the fact that the mayority of Chinese people are held as slaves.

  15. The modern capitalist economy cannot exist without alternative model of economy (confirming to it is crisis). The socialism has failed, what expects industrialized countries?

  16. F*** the USA.. the most aggressive imperialist state in modern history — a state that is nothing more than the vanguard of neoliberal corporate greed and exploitation

Leave a Comment