The Russians have had a good army but their navy has never dominated the world unlike the Spanish and English navy and now the American navy. Right from the time of Peter the Great who brought ship builders to Russia from Europe the navy has remained the Achilles heel of the Russian power. Under Stalin and Brezhnev, a beginning was made when the USSR was in existence but the navy never could match the US Navy. A lacuna was aircraft carriers which the Soviets could not build and hence their power exposition was limited to areas within theirvicinity.

Building carriers

The USSR under Brezhnev did give the go ahead for aircraft carriers, but problems of cost and technology plagued the Russians and this has continued even today after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Putin the Russian leader would like a number of carriers to project Russian power but the Russians have only one and that is also suspect as it is not battle hardy.

At the moment the Russians have only one aircraft carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov. This is a 63000-ton carrier and nowhere a match for the American carriers like the Nimitz class which displace over 100,000 tons. The aircraft carrierskeel was laid in 1982 and became fully operational only in 1995. The Russians laid the framework of another similar carrier but only the hull was made and later it was sold to China which has christened it as theLiaoning.

The Liaoningand the Kuznetsov have similar capabilities and operate 20 MIG 29, 12 SU-33 and Kamov helicopters.

Russian failure

The aircraft carrier went for a refit and only emerged for operational duty in 2015. However, the Russians have not used it in combat and their experience of sea operations is limited as one Su-33 fell into the sea during stormy weather.

The ship was supposed to be deployedin the Mediterranean Sea in 2016 but it has not been deployed as yet. The aircraft carrier remains in the Black Sea in the dock. It is possible that the Russians do not have the required number of experienced pilots who can operate fighters from the deck of an aircraft carrier.

The Russian navy power is very limited and one aircraft carrier which is also not fully operational does not speak highly of Russian naval capability. Putin's dream of matching American naval power must yet remain a fantasy.