Don't know about the catapults, because if they install just one, exclusively for the "heavy" AEW/cargo aircraft, I don't think the
expense of developing EM cat's is justified. Besides that would require a far less complex steam circuit than the 4 cat's of Nimitz
Steam cats would take years to perfect and implement properly and even then they require lots of high pressure, high temperature steam pipes through your ship.
They are not variable... you look at the plane and its weapon load and its fuel load and you set the cat to a specific pressure. Some ordinance or loadouts will require special settings to prevent damage or to ensure the aircraft gets airborne.
After you push the go button there is nothing you can do to change it.
With an EM system it will all be computer controlled and you would set the aircraft type and let the system do the rest. During the aircraft acceleration it can detect how it is accelerating and if it is too slow it can add more power to make sure the plane gets airborne without ripping its undercarriage off in the process.
It needs lots of power, but there is plenty of electrical power in a nuke.
The technology of an EM catapult is well worth the investment because EM guns also have potential for very long range very high velocity weapons.
Steam technology is not much use for anything else and is pretty much a dead end.
Very simply the Russian military has already said it doesn't want to buy old stuff and old technology.
If they were making a new rifle would they start by designing a matchlock musket and then when they have made the best matchlock musket in the world move up to a flintlock rifle?
The advantage of cats is getting heavier aircraft on board, and getting heavier aircraft on board. Ironically after the Kuznetsov comes out of refit... supposed to be 2017, but likely to be 2020 by the time she has fitted out and is back in service the planes landing on her decks will likely be T-50 variants with relatively light payload and fuel weights and high thrust that really will not need cats.
The aircraft on board that will need cats with either be AWACs, Inflight refuelling, or Strike/bomber aircraft.
I would think the Russians will prefer cruise missiles for strike and attack missions, but AWACS and IFR aircraft would greatly improve the performance of the carrier by extending the vision and reach of the aircraft on board... that is the whole point of air power at sea and these assets would make it even better in that role.
Regarding electric drive it has an enormous range of advantages... the primary advantage is that the nuclear reactors are no longer limited as to where they can be positioned. Instead of sticking them near the rear of the ship in line with the shafts to the props you can move them to the centre of the ship and replace a lot of wasted dead weight (ie ballast) that is used to balance the ship in the water. The nuclear power plant will have lots of failsafe features like auto shutdown in case something goes wrong so a torpedo detonating directly under it (to create a huge air bubble under the ship that breaks the ships back and sinks it) is always going to sink the ship anyway if it is powerful enough to lift the whole ship out of the water... or at least that section. By putting lots of weight there and not behind it where the reactor normally goes there is a small chance the air bubble might not lift the ship high enough to do enough structural damage to sink the ship.
Either way by going for electric propulsion you can get rid of the enormous shafts and most of the gearing and replace the rear mounted fixed propellers with pod mounted propulsion units that can be turned to give amazing manoeuvre capability.
Again, for ships this is new technology and has already been applied to Russian Icebreakers.
It makes the ship design much more modular and easier to put together and in the water it means no more tug support required and the ability to move in tight areas you would never take another carrier into.
It has interesting connotations in regard to wake homing torpedoes as the vessel can sail forward and then stop then accelerate sideways for a bit and then accelerate backwards... in effect sailing back past the incoming wake homing torpedo. What will it do when the wake turns 90 degrees? And then 90 degrees again?
I think electric drive will be useful and will also result in large capacitor bank technology being improved... which will also be needed for EM cats... and EM guns.
Even in their tanks they are looking at electric drive hybrids... it is the way forward.
(It is also rather quiet and is already used in diesel electric subs so it is hardly brand new except for use on ships.)