Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to strengthen Russia’s naval prowess after the country inaugurated two new nuclear submarines.
Putin travelled to the northern city of Severodvinsk to view the vessels, the Emperor Alexander III and Krasnoyarsk, at the Sevmash shipbuilding yard where they were built over the past six years.
The two submarines are due to join Russia’s Pacific fleet.
“With such ships and such weapons, Russia will feel that it is safe,” Putin told officials and naval officers at the ceremony.
The Emperor Alexander III is part of Russia’s new Borei (Arctic Wind) class of nuclear-powered submarines, each of them armed with 16 nuclear-tipped Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Borei is the first new generation of undersea vessels Russia has launched since the Cold War.
The Krasnoyarsk belongs to the Yasen (Ash Tree) class of multi-purpose submarines equipped with long-range, high-precision missiles that Putin said could strike targets at sea and on land.
“We will quantitatively strengthen the combat readiness of the Russian Navy, our naval power in the Arctic, the Far East, the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Caspian Sea – the most important strategic areas of the world’s oceans,” Putin said.
Putin, who last Friday announced he would seek a fifth presidential term in an election in March, has repeatedly talked up the potential of Russia’s new generation of weapons, particularly its nuclear systems, and their value as a deterrent.
Security analysts say nuclear arms have assumed a greater importance in his thinking and rhetoric since the start of the war in Ukraine, where Putin’s conventional forces are locked in a grinding war of attrition with no end in sight.
Russia is building eight more nuclear submarines – three Borei-class and five Yasen-class.
Russian lawmakers in October approved record military spending as Russia continues its war in neighbouring Ukraine.