Russian Warships: Why Are They Sailing Toward Syria?
Russian warships are gathering in the waters off Syria. According to AFP, three ships from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet sailed through Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait on Thursday: the SSV-201 intelligence-gathering ship Priazovye, and the landing ships Minsk and Novocherkassk.
More might be on the way. A frigate and another landing ship are ready to head to the eastern Mediterranean from the Black Sea Fleet base in Sevastopol, according to CBS News.
Why is Moscow ordering so much sea power to the region?
The Kremlin’s chief of staff says it’s to evacuate Russians from Syria if a looming US air attack makes that necessary. The presence of the ships is to “primarily” provide a means for Russian civilians to escape, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov said Thursday.
Notice the word “primarily.” It’s almost certain that the ships are also supposed to keep an eye on the five US Arleigh Burke-class destroyers cruising off Syrian shores.
As the Institute for the Study of War notes on its Syria blog, the Priazovye carries both active (radar) and passive (sonar) sensors that would enable it to possibly determine the location of the US ships.
The Russian spy ship and its supporting cast could easily detect any US cruise missile launch if they’re in the general area of the American destroyers. Tomahawk cruise missiles fire vertically out of Navy ships, powered by rockets. Several hundred feet up, their wings unfold, their turbofans ignite, and they turn to cruise toward land.