July 11, 2016

Putin's Purge of Russia's Baltic Fleet Officer Corps

A typically stony-faced Putin manages to crack another unsmile at hapless Russian Captain (2nd rank) (who was equivalent to a USN Commander).

A most curious article has cropped up in The Moscow Times. This is a portion of Matthew Bodner’s, Chaos Consumes Russia's Baltic Fleet of July 6, 2016:

Bodner reports:

“On June 29, [2016] the Russian Defense Ministry announced it was purging the entire senior and mid-level command of the Baltic Fleet. It was a dramatic move that suggested deep structural problems within the fleet command. In total, 50 officers were dismissed from their post, including the fleet commander, Vice Admiral Viktor Kravchuk, and his chief of staff, Vice Admiral Sergei Popov.

Not since Stalin's purges had so many officers been ousted at once.”

There is a theory that this purge was due to mass corruption and inefficiency. But according to this US report of July 8, 2016 corruption, inefficiency and ships and submarines on fire are endemic in the Russian Navy. So there may be an additional reason.

Some hint that the “buzzing” of USS Donald Cook by Russian Su-24 fighter-bombers on April 14, 2016 was meant to be part of a broader series of Russian confrontations against Western ships in the Baltic. But the Russian Baltic Fleet in April, however, refused to follow such dangerous orders – hence Putin’s retaliation against his own naval officers.

Subsequently concurring with my view is http://navalinstitute.com.au/world-naval-developments-july-2016/ of August 3, 2016 with the author, Norman Friedman, indicating “It seems more likely that the officers involved had refused to engage in risky behavior Putin is now demanding.

They are lucky that Putin is not a Stalin, noting Stalin's officer purges of the 1930s hit the Soviet Navy severely as well.

See fragmentary reports in TASS  and FlashNord of July 1, 2016 as well as a report from Russia's Interfax (with useful biodata).



Nicky K.D Chaleunphone said...

Hi Pete,
This may interest you

DCNS, ThyssenKrupp To Face Off in Norwegian Submarines Bid

Peter Coates said...

Thanks Nicky