October 29, 2009:
While Russian admirals have been talking about building six aircraft carriers in the next decade, the president of Russia has recently ordered them to concentrate on smaller ships for the Black and Baltic Seas. The Black Sea fleet has been continually declining since the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. That decline is the result of new countries (like Ukraine and Georgia) inheriting old Soviet ships and bases. That was the dissolution deal. Whatever Soviet weapons or bases were normally were, belonged to one of the 14 new nations. Most of Russias high seas ships were based in northern Russia (the Northern fleet, based next to Finland and Norway) or the Far East (the Pacific fleet, based north of China and North Korea). But the Baltic and Black Sea fleets were largely based in ports that were now part of a foreign nation.
For over a century, Russia had four fleets (Northern, Pacific, Baltic and Black Sea). The latter two were virtually destroyed by the dissolution. But now Russia is having political problems (largely caused by Russia) with Georgia and Ukraine, and could really use some additional (and modern) naval power. To a lesser extent, the same situation applies in the Baltic (where Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania harbored, and often built, many of the Soviet ships of the Baltic fleet.) Poland, while not part of the Soviet Union, was a major naval ally, as was East Germany. Thus the Baltic fleet is a fraction of what it once was, and needs rebuilding.
So the admirals have been ordered to forget about aircraft carriers, and take care of business closer to home. Corvettes and patrol boats are needed, not carriers.