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Last Updated: November 13, 2014
Beginning in late 2013, significant untrest gripped the Ukraine, and particularly its capitol in Kiev. The former Ukrainian President had resisted efforts by the Ukrainian Parliament to forge closer ties with NATO, planning instead realign the Ukraine with Russia. This was the cause of the unrest. Ultimately, the Ukrainian president was impeached and fled the capitol to eastern Uktraine.
The head of Parliment became the interim President and new elections were held resulting in a leader more aligned with the majority of Ukrainian people and the parliament.
However, the eastern provinces rejected this, and inparticular, the Crimea, which had been ceded to Ukraine by the USSR during the Cold War and was the location of very major and critical Russian NAval facilities. IN February 2014, Russian troops entered the Crimea and secured it for Russia. A referendum was held and passed to seceed from the Ukraine and become a part of Russia. Fighting broke out in two other eastern provinces and it esclated into civil war. Russia supported the separatists against the Ukrainian military. The US and NATO supported the Ukrainian government position and although they did not send military personnel or equipment, they did insitute sanctions against Russia.
As a result of these tensions, on september 3, 2014, France announced that it would not deliver the Vladivostok LHD to Russia, even though it had been launched and was going through sea trials. The French Presidnet announced that with the fighting in eastern Ukraine and the Russian support of separatists, "the conditions for the delivery of the Valdivostock to Russia are not in place." He also indicated that Russian support of separatists was threatening the peace and stability of Western Europe. Even though a cease fir was signed in September, further fighting broke out in early November. There is no definitive schedule for delivering the Vladivostok, or her sister ship, the Sevastapol (which is nearing completion and launch) to Russia.
In early 2012 construction began on the first vessel, the Vladivostok. She was launched in Saint-Nazaire, France on October 15, 2013, and will be inducted into Russian service in December 2014, or early in 2015. The second vessel, the Sevastapol, started construction in June 2013, and should be launched in the fall of 2014, to be commissioned in late 2015 or early in 2016.
The Russians have never operated aany LHD class vessel to date.
The weapons fit will include Russian built Ghebka anti-air missile systems, AK630 30mm CIWS systems, and DP-65 Grende launchers as well as 14.5mm machine guns.
The Russians plan to outfit the carrier with a mix of navalized Ka-52K Alligator attack helicopters and Ka-29 helicopters for troop transport, Ka-27 helicopters for anti-submarine partol, and Ka-31 helicopters for Aerial Early Warning (AEW). The principle use will be amphibious assault, but the vessels can also serve as the centerpiece for a heavy anti-submarine warfare task force. or for humanitarian efforts in natural deisasters or for evacuation purposes..
The vessels will each displace 21,300 tons and can carry between 16 and 30 helicopters...depending on size of the helos. They can carry up to 900 Marines and their equipment, have a well deck to accomodate up to 4 landing craft and can cruise at 18 knots. They are 653 feet long and 105 ft wide.
The French vessels have seen very successful combat service supporting operations in central Africa, in Libya, and in the fight against Somali pirates. These successes and their utility influenced the Russian decision.
This class, with its proven success, its strong capabilities, and fast modular construction and commissioning, would be a major addition to the Russian fleet and construction methodology by the Russian Navy.
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