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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Navy Plans to Move to St. Petersburg

MTThe Defense Ministry is planning to move the Navy headquarters to St. Petersburg in the latest instance of a federal institution being shifted to the former capital — and President Vladimir Putin's hometown.
The Defense Ministry is planning to move the Navy headquarters to St. Petersburg in the latest instance of a federal institution being shifted to the former capital -- and President Vladimir Putin's hometown.

Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has instructed Navy chief Vladimir Vysotsky to draft a plan for the move from Moscow to the historical Admiralty and surrounding buildings in St. Petersburg, an unidentified Defense Ministry official said, Kommersant reported Wednesday. Serdyukov was acting on orders from the Kremlin, and the government has already been instructed to allocate funding for the transfer, the official said.

The move would be the second by a federal institution to St. Petersburg, following the Constitutional Court. Analysts told Kommersant that the decision was likely based on political considerations and could undermine command and control capabilities in the short term.

The relocation to the 18th-century site -- built under Peter the Great as a shipyard but now home to a naval cadet school and the Leningrad Naval Base command -- is planned to start in April, Kommersant quoted another Defense Ministry source as saying.

The new location, over 700 kilometers from the Defense Ministry and strategic forces commands in Moscow, will pose significant communication challenges. It will also mean the purchase of apartments for thousands of personnel who will have to be relocated.

The Navy has already asked for 15 billion rubles ($607 million) for the move, Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye reported.

Independent analysts, however, say the cost would be at least 20 billion to 25 billion rubles, which could be better spent on ships and hardware for a Navy that has been hit hard by a lack of funding since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the independent military weekly reported.

Calls to the press services of the Defense Ministry and Navy went unanswered Wednesday.