Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 69

At a time when Russo-Chinese military relations are booming, navy commander-in-chief Adm. Feliks Gromov has warned that the current border talks between the two countries could give China an outlet onto the Sea of Japan — a development that has the potential, in Gromov’s view, to change the military-strategic balance in Asia. Gromov was referring to an area where the Chinese, Russian, and North Korean borders meet along the Tumannaya River. Presently, Chinese territory ends 17 kilometers from the Sea of Japan, with the river marking the Chinese-North Korean border north of that point and the Russian-North Korean border south to the Sea. Gromov said that the new agreement might allow Chinese vessels to sail down the Tumannaya and into the Sea of Japan. (Interfax-Eurasia, April 18)

The Russian Foreign Ministry called Gromov’s apprehensions "groundless," observing that the river is too shallow for warships and that the border agreement would not give China the legal right to use the lower 17 kilometers of the river. (Interfax, April 18)

Gromov’s implicit warnings about Chinese naval power notwithstanding, the first deputy commander-in-chief of Russia’s fleet, Adm. Igor Kasatonov, has confirmed that Russia plans to supply two Sovremenny-class destroyers to China this year. The 8,000-ton guided missile destroyers — being built at the Zhdanov Shipyards in St. Petersburg — are 70 percent complete and were originally destined for the Russian navy. Kasatonov warned that the Russian navy stands to lose unless the ships are replaced, and bemoaned the fact that fewer and fewer surface combatants are being built. "Unless funds for construction are increased," he said, "numerous production lines and technologies can be lost forever." The Sovremenny class normally carries eight "Moskit" surface-to-surface missiles as its main armament. The Chinese are reportedly asking to have 24 launchers installed on each ship. (Interfax, April 21)

Baltic Accession to NATO Would Equal Cuban Missile Crisis, Senior Russian Analyst Says.