Russia Sends Most Powerful Ships to Mediterranean
On Saturday, Russian news agency RT reported that the "Varyag," flagship of Russia's Pacific Fleet, and "Pyotr Veliky" ("Peter the Great"), the nation's most powerful nuclear-powered battleship, were moved into the Mediterranean Sea.
The Varyag, which has been dubbed the "aircraft carrier killer," will perform a number of maneuvers, some in coordination with the Russian naval forces currently stationed on the Mediterranean.
The ship will replace the missile cruiser "Moskva," taking command of Russia's Pacific Fleet in the Mediterranean. The Moskva was sent to the region in September to take over local operations.
Back in 2011 China started its first tests on its own variation of the Varyag, the "Liaoning," which it had been retrofitting since 1998.
Along with the Varyag, the Pyotr Veliky entered the western Mediterranean Saturday, anchoring in the Alboran Sea.
In September, admiral of the fleet Viktor Chirkov said the Russian Navy intends to continue increasing its presence, particularly off the Syrian shore. Russian military buildup on the Mediterranean began December 2012.
The move is seen as aid for Russian ally Syria. Turkish President Abdullah Gul warned today (Monday) that Syria is in danger of becoming an "Afghanistan on the shores of the Mediterranean."
Russia has been heavily involved in supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, reportedly having transferred S-300 missile batteries in September. Russia denied the validity of the report.
While Western powers are reportedly accepting the idea that Assad will stay in power during Syrian transition up until the Spring 2014 elections, Syrian opposition forces have refused to participate in Geneva peace talks until a timeframe for Assad's removal is established.
Naval-Technology.com gives details about the Kirov class Pyotr Veliky, which is designed to sink aircraft carriers and defend the fleet against air and submarine attacks.
The ship is fitted with a number of missile systems as well as a 130mm AK-130 twin-barrel gun sporting a 22 km range, and carries 3 Ka-27 helicopters. The following video showcases some of the ship's capabilities.