On navy day, Putin says U.S. is Russia's main threat

STORY: President Vladimir Putin signed a new naval doctrine on Sunday (July 31) which cast the United States as Russia's main rival.

Inspecting the country's fleet, the leader set out Russia's global maritime ambitions for crucial areas like the Arctic and in the Black Sea.

Putin was speaking on the nation's Navy Day in the former imperial capital of St Petersburg - a city founded by Tsar Peter the Great.

The president praised Peter for making Russia a great sea power and increasing the global standing of the Russian state.

Shortly before, Putin signed a new 55-page doctrine, setting out the navy's strategic aims and its ambition as a "great maritime power" extending over the entire world.

It says the main threat to Russia is "the strategic policy of the USA to dominate the world's oceans", as well as the NATO military alliance moving closer towards its borders.

If soft powers like diplomatic and economic tools have been exhausted, the doctrine claims Russia may use appropriate military force.

Putin did not mention the conflict in Ukraine during his speech.

But the military doctrine envisages "strengthening Russia's geopolitical position" in the Black and Azov seas - and set out the Arctic Ocean as being of particular importance.

The U.S. has repeatedly said Russia is trying to militarize the area.

Putin added that delivery of Russia's "unique" Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles would begin within months.

Emphasizing his ambition to be able to respond to threats to Russia's sovereignty with "lightning speed".

Hypersonic weapons can travel at nine times the speed of sound.

Over the past year, Russia has conducted test-launches of the Zircon missiles from warships and submarines.