Russia: Baltic fleet under new management
MOSCOW — In a sweeping military shake-up, Russia has replaced the top commanders of its Baltic Fleet, which patrols a region that has become the main fault line between Russia and the West.
The dismissals are all the more surprising because President Vladimir V. Putin, who would have approved them, visited the fleet’s main base at Baltiysk last July and was unsparing in his praise.
The purge reportedly continued through Friday, with some 50 senior officers dismissed from service as part of the Defense Ministry's crackdown on the Baltic Fleet — the smallest and most overlooked of Russia's four major naval groupings. The new officers have been given a deadline of the end of this year to turn the state of affairs in the Baltic Fleet around.
Bizarrely, it appears that the only senior officer to survive the purge is Sergey Eliseev, who allegedly defected as First Deputy Commander of the Ukrainian Navy during the Russian invasion of Crimea, and was appointed Deputy Commander of Russian Baltic Fleet in July 2014.
And it is interesting to note that the formal indictment of Sergey for treason and desertion by the Ukrainian military prosecutor coincides with the Baltic Fleet purge. But who knows what that coincidence is supposed to mean, if indeed it means anything at all.