Russian President Vladimir Putin has purged all the officers in his Baltic Sea fleet
**RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has taken a page out of Joseph Stalin’s book — and sacked every commander in his Baltic fleet. **The stated cause: corruption and incompetence.
But given the endemic nature of both problems across the Russian military, Western analysts are scratching their heads as to the real reason behind the purge.
The performance of Russia’s military during recent high profile, large-scale military NATO military exercises in the Baltic may have something to do with it. As could the ever escalating games of brinkmanship being played out in the international waters and skies.
“Some hint that the “buzzing” of USS Donald Cook by Russian Su-24 fighter-bombers on April 14, 2016 was meant to be part of a broader series of Russian confrontations against Western ships in the Baltic,” says international affairs analyst Peter Coates. “But the Russian Baltic Fleet in April, however, refused to follow such dangerous orders — hence Putin’s retaliation against his own naval officers.”
News of the purge has been trickling out through official Russian news agencies including TASS and Interfax. But it an article in The Moscow Times blamed “chaos” in the Baltic Fleet’s command structure for the dramatic move, citing the Russian Defense Ministry as accusing the officers of dereliction of duty.
“On June 29, the Russian Defense Ministry announced it was purging the entire senior and mid-level command of the Baltic Fleet. It was a dramatic move that suggested deep structural problems within the fleet command. In total, 50 officers were dismissed from their post, including the fleet commander, Vice Admiral Viktor Kravchuk, and his chief of staff, Vice Admiral Sergei Popov,” *The Moscow Times *report reads.
“Not since Stalin’s purges had so many officers been ousted at once.”