Russia will undertake a significant naval increase in the Black Sea following the Russian seizure of Crimea, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said during a Tuesday teleconference.
“New air defense and marine units will be formed at our fleet bases this year. New submarines will be supplied to the Black Sea fleet this year alongside next-generation surface ships, and this will require our attention,” Shoigu said in the teleconference as reported by news wire Interfax.
Shoigu said the expansion would be part of a $2.43 billion effort to plus up Russia’s Black Sea fleet by 2020.
The capture of Crimea solidified Russia’s grasp on the naval base in Sevastopol — which the Russian Navy had been leasing from Ukraine and had used as its headquarters for its Black Sea fleet.
The Russian Black Sea fleet — at the moment — is comprised of a handful of capital ships focused mainly on anti-submarine warfare and about seven amphibious assault ships. The Russians also have an extensive mine sweeping force and a mix of ten or so smaller guided missile boats and corvettes.
The capture of Crimea has also resulted in the bulk of the Ukrainian Navy’s surface forces being absorbed into the Russian fleet.
Shoigu’s announcement follows accusations from the Russia’s Foreign Minister that the U.S. has violated rules of conduct in the Black Sea.
Recent U.S. ship movements were deemed by the Russian government as a violation of the so-called 1936 Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits.
Montreux rules call for warships from countries without a coast on the Black Sea to depart after 21 days.