Russia to expand foreign naval bases: Medvedev
President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday that Russia intended to expand the number of its foreign naval bases as it tries to catch up with the military capabilities of the West.
Medvedev conceded at a meeting with Russia's top brass that the country was losing some of its Soviet-era allies and now more than ever need to negotiate a series of new foreign base agreements with new partner states.
"Unfortunately, the reality is that a number of our previous opportunities have disappeared," Medvedev said in televised remarks.
Medvedev said that he now had "certain ideas" about how these could be replaced.
"But for obvious reasons, I will not say them out loud," he added.
Russia has in the past decade lost several of its most important Soviet-era bases, including in Cuba and Vietnam.
These and other losses have left Russia unable to support major naval exercises, leaving the once-mighty force largely confined to the European seas and Russia's Pacific coast.
Medvedev admitted that this has left Russia at tremendous disadvantage to Western powers, which have supported and built new bases since the Soviet Union's collapse.
"In this sense, our current partners have much better conditions because they have put up bases the world over. And they enter them and refuel."
Russia, meanwhile, has to support all its major sea operations with a fleet of refuelling ships, "which is very expensive and completely inefficient," Medvedev said.
"All in all, this is a subject demanding careful government involvement," Medvedev said.
© 2010 AFP