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Russia reinforced its naval task group in Mediterranean.

| 2018

The Black Sea Fleet’s Project 11356 guided missiles frigates Admiral Grigorovich (hull number 494) and Admiral Essen (hull number 490) have made a scheduled passage from Sevastopol to the Mediterranean Sea, the Southern Military District press-service reports.eports.

Russia reinforced its naval task group in Mediterranean Source : Izvestia

"During the voyage the ships performed a set of operational exercises at the Black Sea test ranges. In particular, the frigate crews, jointly with the crews of Ka-27PL helicopters, practiced the takeoffs and landings on ship decks, and drilled a submarine search and tracking procedure. Simultaneously, for checking the coordination between all of the ships’ aviation complexes, exercises were carried out with the ships’ crews tasked with helicopter flight support," the press-service reports.

On August 16, the naval group at the Mediterranean was joined by Project 21631 guided missile corvette Vyshnii Volochok (code name Buyan-M). A few days later, a second serial (third in count) Project 11356 guided missile frigate Admiral Makarov (hull number 799) started a voyage from the Baltic to the Black Sea at the permanent base in Sevastopol. It is expected that in the next few days it also will join the group at the Mediterranean Sea.

On August 18, the SMD press-service said that the Baltic Fleet’s Project 11540 frigate Yaroslav Mudry (hull number 777) has completed the tasks of the long-range voyage and headed for a permanent base. On ending the commercial call at Port Sudan it headed towards the Suez Canal. Now the ship may be in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean.

On August 23, the Northern Fleet press-service reported that a detachment of the Northern Fleet’s warships comprised of Project 1164 missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov (code name Atlant), (hull number 055) and Project 1155 large anti-submarine ship Severomorsk (hull number 619) held exercises in anti-submarine defense at the Mediterranean Sea. The Northern Sea ships left Severomorsk on July 5, 2018. As of August 23, they had covered more than 6,800 sea miles. The crews of the "Marshal Ustinov" and the "Severomorsk" represented the Northern Fleet at the chief naval parade, took part in the inter-fleet exercise at the Baltic Sea together with the Baltic and Black Sea Fleets’ ships and made a commercial call at the capital of Algeria. In all likelihood the ships of the Northern Fleet moved eastward and are now at Syria’s borders. The cruiser Marshal Ustinov may become the flagship of the group.

On the same day, the Turkish mass media reported that three ships of the Russian Navy, two Project 1171 large landing ships Nikolai Filchenkov and Orsk, passed through the Bosphorus Straits accompanied by Project 1135M patrol ship Pytlivy (hull number 868).

Buyan-M The Vyshny Volochek. Project 21631 corvettes are armed with Kalibr missiles (SS-N-27 Sizzler by NATO classification). They are fired by an eight-cell vertical 3S-14 launcher. Kalibr strikes with cruise missiles at sea (3M-54 missiles) and ground (3M-14) targets. Picture: Russian MoD

Two Project 21631 guided missile corvettes of the Caspian flotilla, the Grad Sviyazhsk (hull number 652) and the Veliky Ustyg (hull number) have been operating at the Mediterranean Sea since as early as mid-June. The SMD press-service reports that since August 2017 Project 636.3 B-268 Veliky Novgorod and B-271 Kolpino diesel-electric submarines have been operating near the Syrian borders.

In addition, the Black Sea Fleet sea trawler Valentin Pikul will soon reinforce the permanent force of the Russian Navy at the Mediterranean where, based on the planned rotation, it will replace the trawler "Turbinist" that performs its duties since May 2018.

Thus, the Russian Navy group in the Eastern Mediterranean has concentrated a large quantity of ships armed with anti-ship missiles and 3M-14 ship-based cruise missiles of the Kalibr high precision family for strikes against land-based targets.

Beefing up the Navy’s force near Syria’s shores can be explained by two factors. The first is preparation by terrorist groups of another provocation with "the use of chemical weapon" in Idlib province, mentioned on August 25 by the Russian Defense Ministry. Obviously, following the demonstration of a video footage of the faked "chemical attack" the Western coalition comprised of the US, the UK and France will be prepared to deliver more strikes against the Syrian governmental forces. For this purpose, a few days ago the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke type of guided missile destroyer Sullivans, DDG-68, armed with Tomahawk ship-based cruise missiles has arrived in the Persian Gulf, while the US AF’s B-1B Lancer strategic bomber with 24 AGM-158 JASSM was deployed to the El-Udeid airbase.

The second factor is preparation for hostilities in Idlib province. On August 25, major-general Aleksey Tsygankov, head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Warring Parties in Syria, reported that several thousand militants armed with heavy weapons and armor have gathered in Idlib for advance on Hama and Aleppo. At present, 70% of the Idlib province territory is controlled by terrorist groups, the biggest of which is Hay•at Tahrir al-Sham (previously Jabhat al-Nusra, prohibited in Russia). On the following day Ali Ayyoub, the Syrian Deputy Commander-in-Chief and Defense Minister, said that Idlib would be returned to Syria and cleared of terrorists either through a military operation or reconciliation agreements. In all likelihood, in the next few weeks a likely scenario is serious slashes between the Syrian governmental troops and militants in that area.

The Russian Navy may support the Syrian army by 3M-14 cruise missile strikes against the terrorists’ vital facilities. With the arrival in the Eastern Mediterranean of the frigate Admiral Makarov, eight (8) ship-based cruise missile craft (3 Project 11356 GM frigates, 3 Project 21631 GM corvettes , and 2 Project 636.3 diesel-electric submarines) will be concentrated in the area. Each of the frigates and corvettes is fitted the 8-cell 3S-14 vertical launcher, the submarines can use ship-based cruise missiles from 533mm tubes (each DES is fitted with 6 torpedo tubes). In addition, the presence in the Eastern Mediterranean of a large number of the Russian Navy ships with high precision weapons may influence the Western coalition’s decision on a new operation against the Syrian legal forces.

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