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According to a Russian source quoted by Izvestya, the Russian Navy intelligence directorate urgently needs the spy ship because its surveillance vessels are old and outdated and ships can get closer to intelligence targets than aircraft. Ships also can be stationed for several days before being discovered.

“We now have practically no specialist reconnaissance ships left,” the source said. “Those that we have were built in the 1970s and 1980s and are in poor condition. The Yuri Ivanov is a ship with a fundamentally new, highly productive reconnaissance complex.”

The Ivanov is classified as a special communications ship 95 meters long with a displacement of 4,000 tons. It will be deployed with Russia’s Pacific fleet.

Moscow also announced Apr. 1 that it would modernize three Oscar II diesel powered, nuclear cruise missile submarines as part of a modernization of the Russian Pacific Fleet.

The submarines were built for attacking aircraft carrier strike groups and their weaponry included 24 SS-N-19 missiles and 28 torpedo tube launched missiles and torpedoes. A Russian military news outlet reported that the Oscar II modernization would include adding supersonic SS-N-26 anti-ship cruise missiles.

Former chief of the Russian General Staff Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky told a conference earlier this week in Moscow that the United States has not abandoned strategic plans for preventive nuclear strikes on both Russia and China. Baluyevsky said U.S. missile defenses are designed to prevent attacks after a U.S. first-strike nuclear attack, Interfax AVN reported April 2.

Former Russian Strategic Rocket Forces commander Col. Gen. Victor Yesin at the same conference said Russian offensive missiles would be able to overcome any U.S. missile defense system.

Yesin said any attempts to negotiate a new treaty with the United States like the now-abandoned 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty will fail.

“Whether we like it or not, the Americans will build their missile defense,” Yesin said. “We will be unable to make them stop. Any attempt to force the Americans to abandon or at least sign a new missile defense treaty in the format of 1972 is a lost cause; that will never happen.”