Russian President Vladimir Putin took a page from Joseph Stalin’s book by firing his entire naval fleet’s officer class in the Baltic Sea after receiving reports that the fleet was not following orders to engage western ships. The decision was caused by long standing claims the officers were not following orders and a collision between a Russian submarine Krasnodar and a Polish patrol boat during a training exercise.
The Russian Defense Ministry revealed it was firing all of the Russian Navy’s top brass after commanders attempted to cover up the crash between the Russian submarine Krasnodar and the Polish vessel. The defense ministry and Putin were both outraged by the attempted cover up. The incident, paired with months of complaints from several officers of “incompetence and corruption” among a majority of the commanders in the fleet, sparked the mass exodus.
Several observers claim that the Russian government was ordering the fleet to engage and antagonize western ships in the area. They cite the recent “buzzing” of the USS Donald Cook as an example of the such orders.
Over 50 officers were dismissed from their post. Making it one of the biggest purges since Stalin ruled over the Soviet Union.
Several Kremlin chief’s claim the commanders were fired for being part of institutionalized incompetence. They feared that the commanders inability to carry out orders was leading to an overall decline in military readiness in the region.
Dmitry Gorenburg, a Russian navy expert, parroted their claims. He told the Moscow Times:
The Russian leadership is clearly fine with corruption, but I think this was meant to signal others in the military and the security services that you can go ahead and steal and do what you want to do, but if you do that to an extent that combat readiness suffers, there will be consequences.
The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the fired men had displayed serious shortcomings in the organization of combat training, day-to-day duties, inattention to their subordinates, and had distorted reports to hide their incompetencies.