I don't really get the large amount of criticism of this class.
After the Subs & in the absence of significant numbers of 11356/22350 coming online (for various reasons) I think 22800 Karakut is the most important navy project.
Russia needs lots of UKSK tubes in the water & hulls to replace legacy ships going offline ASAP (Karakut does use Russian made engines right?)
Yes they could just build more Buyan-M but A: they are (and its important not to disrupt that successful production line at least until Karakut is proven to be able to get in service quickly)
B: Buyan-M is shoehorning the Calibre/UKSK capability into a ship not really designed for it & not designed for any kind of exposed seas while Karakurt is designed for both. (Buyan-Ms deploying to Syria while impressive I think is more of a desperation move due to absence of anything much else to send)
With the very specific physical circumstances of Russia I think it makes sense to build a lot of fairly small missile boats.
6 each for the Black, Baltic & North fleets is not that great but the ability to relocate them via the river/canal system opens the possibility to fairly quickly concentrate up to 144 UKSK tubes in any of those seas (Caspian too).
Side question: I'm pretty sure Karakut can use Black-Caspian-Baltic route no problems but not sure it can traverse to White sea? (though they seem to be able to get much bigger subs there from Nizhny Novgorod)
Also there has been criticism of weak AA and thats certainly true of the initial version with only 2*AK-630s but if/once the expected Naval Pantsir shows up (though why not use Palash now?) they will probably have the best AA of any ship up to the 20380s & possibly much bigger excluding that class.
I've seen it suggested on other forums that there should be a dedicated AA version & I think that there is possibility there: replace the UKSK with Redut, give it Furke or better (I think its actually getting the same new Zaslon AESA as 20385 already?) & you have a pretty impressive AA ability (even if Redut on 20380 isn't considered great), with Redut being smaller & lighter maybe even remove the main gun & add at least another 8 Redut tubes.
Obviously this would be useless for other tasks but I see it as maybe 1 in 6 providing an AA umbrella for the squadron in absence of 11356/22350s.
I had at first thought give it Fregat/Shtil-1 for 'availabile now' factor but if Furke/Redut is actually working OK(ish) for 20380 then that is probably the better course.
Similarly I think rather than a separate class for antisub (the concepts I've seen look more superyacht than actual practical naval ship) a modification of Karakut seems like a better idea.
Though I'm not sure quite how that would work, proper antisub would be really hard to fit into 800ton.
Maybe remove gun & AA, add hull sonar & Packet?
Without removing the UKSK you'd have a hard time finding enough weight/volume for a more significant antisub setup but removing the UKSK removes that long range antisub Calibre.
Assuming a 6 ship squadron you would be able to use the UKSKs of the rest of the squadron for carrying the antisub Calibres but that would eat into their main antisurface mission even more.
But if we assume that there will be some form of larger ship available to provide AA cover/Antisub sensors a 6 ship squadron of basic Karakut working with it can provide significant extra firepower.
In summary: I hope Russia will be able to actually get decent numbers of these in service quickly.