For much of its history, the Russian Navy has been the subject of fierce internal debates about its purpose, military structure, and the prospect of acting independently of the Russian army’s paternalism. The debate about the future of the Russian Naval Forces reached its peak in the first decades of the formation of the Soviet Union and was institutionalized by the so-called traditionalists and modernists. The former advocated an independent, high quality navy with blue water that ventures into global waters. Modernists, with their land-war mindset, argued that the Navy would always remain the army’s junior partner and simply couldn’t play a crucial role in major wars. It would be a waste of resources for them to invest in surface vessels. Therefore, the emphasis on submarines seemed to be a much cheaper alternative.
Nikita Khrushchev stands out among the Soviet leaders who had strong feelings against the Navy. In his quest to relieve the country of the enormous cost of naval spending, Khrushchev made cruisers and aircraft carriers unusable. In addition, he was inspired by the increasing quality of the missiles and believed that all major naval missions could be completed with submarines. As part of his “reforms” of the Navy, Khrushchev got rid of the Ministry of the Navy and dismissed Admiral Nikolai Kuznetsov to further derail the global efforts of the Navy. He learned the lesson the hard way during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
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