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The Kremlin is preparing blueprints for a huge new aircraft carrier, Russian media reported in early February, to replace its navy’s current flattop, the relatively small and aged “Admiral Kuznetsov.” Moscow’s new carrier, however, is likely to remain a paper concept. A quarter-century after the Soviet Union’s collapse, Russia lacks the money, expertise and industrial capacity to build aircraft carriers.

A new flattop could boost Moscow’s military power by providing air cover to warships sailing far from Russian shores and giving the Kremlin another option for launching air strikes on distant enemies. Both are now particular concerns for the West because President Vladimir Putin’s Russia has become far more aggressive along its borders.

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