Russia is deploying its only aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean sea in a show of force on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime, just weeks after the U.S. deployed an extra aircraft carrier to the region.
The U.S. recently deployed the U.S.S. Dwight D Eisenhower to the Mediterranean sea to aid the U.S. bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Russia repeatedly harassed the U.S.S. Gravely while it was protecting the Eisenhower en route to the Mediterranean sea, and is now sending its only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, to the region, Russia’s state run media TASS reports.
Russia uses the Syrian civil war as an opportunity to demonstrate its conventional military capabilities to the U.S. and its allies. Russia has launched cruise missiles from submarines, from ships in the Caspian sea 100o miles away, and deployed highly sophisticated fighter aircraft to Syria. None of these conventional military capabilities are necessary when battling Syrian rebel groups with no anti-aircraft or sophisticated military equipment. But their use and deployment can serve as demonstrations of force to the U.S. and its NATO allies.
The Kuznetsov is significantly lacking in capabilities. The carrier suffers from significant mechanical challenges and has only been deployed five times in its lifetime. It requires refueling every 45 days or so and will spend only a limited time in the Mediterranean sea.
The deployment of the aircraft carrier comes the day before the U.S. and its NATO allies meet in Warsaw, in large part to confront Russia’s aggression in Georgia and Ukraine. In the wake of the incident U.S. European Command stated, “these actions can unnecessarily escalate tensions between countries, and could result in dangerous miscalculations or accidents.”
The NATO deployment is meant to be more than a symbolic gesture in the wake of Russian aggression in Ukraine and Georgia. NATO Secretary General Jan Stoltenberg called the decision “the biggest reinforcement of collective defense since the end of the Cold War.” NATO intends for the battalions to be strong enough to do enough damage to halt a Russian advance before a NATO rapid reaction team arrives to assist. The deployments will also allow NATO to position heavy weapons to assist the rapid reaction teams.
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