Geoffrey Ingersoll and Michael Kelley — Business Insider June 2, 2013
The Kremlin has upped the geopolitical ante by pledging to send a heavy aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean, as reported by Russian news agency Interfax.
The carrier — named the “Admiral Kuznetsov” — is quite the beast, and word of its addition to the area of operations is just the latest in jockeying between the U.S. and Russia.
“The cruiser will … perform a number of missions in an offshore oceanic zone as part of a group,” Navy Commander Adm. Viktor Chirkov told Interfax. “Northern Fleet naval pilots will perform a number of missions on board this cruiser in the long-range mission.”
The warship holds several sea-based fighters and helicopters, missiles, anti-submarine systems and a crew of 2,000 people.
Despite the implications of the new orders, Chirkov nonchalantly tossed the Admiral Kuznetsov in with the other ships recently deployed to the Mediterranean.
“After all, ships from the Northern, Black Sea, and Baltic Fleets will perform missions as part of this group. So why not,” he said.
The carrier is the only one in Russia’s fleet, so its deployment is an unmistakable signal of Moscow’s seriousness about protecting their regional interests, some of which are directly tied to the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Syria port of Tartus.