Russia Sends Two Squadrons Of Ships To Syria

Tyler Durden's picture

Several days ago, various media outlets misinterpreted a statement out of Russia, in which it was said that Assad may be defeated by the local Al Qaeda-funded and US-supported rebels, and which many took as an indication that the geopolitics in the Middle East may be shifting as Russian support of Syria was ending. Turns out nothing could be further from the truth, and moments ago the AP reports that a "Russian navy squadron has set off for the Mediterranean" with destination Syria. The official point of the exercise: evacuation. The unofficial: anything but. "The Defense Ministry said Tuesday that the ships will rotate with those that have been in the area since November. Russian diplomats said last week that Moscow is preparing plans to evacuate thousands of Russians from Syria if necessary. The ministry did not say whether the navy ships are intended for an evacuation." Remember that "evacuation" was the pretext when Russia also sent the Grand Missile Cruiser Moskva off the Gaza coast last month at the height of the latest escalation of the Israel-Gaza conflict. The pretext then? "Evacuation" too. Why anyone would send their Black Sea Navy flag ship to 'evacuate' a few hundred citizens, all of whom are perfectly proficient with instructions on how to board a plane, is of course, anyone guess.

Alternatively, why Russia would go ahead and do everything to defend its strategic Syria naval base in Tartus, and a regime it has been very sympathetic to in the past, is pretty clear to everyone, especially now that the US and NATO are openly supplying Syria's northern neighbor Turkey with missiles: for now defensive, or so the media spin goes.

From AP:

The squadron of five ships that sailed from the Baltic Sea base of Baltiysk includes a destroyer, a tugboat, a tanker and two large amphibious vessels that could evacuate hundreds of people.

Right, evacuation is the Destroyer's primary role. Look it up: it's in the SOP. And just in case one squadron was not enough, here is another.

Another group of three navy ships departed Tuesday from Severomorsk, the main base of Russia's Northern Fleet on the Kola Peninsula.


While their official mission is anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden, the ships will sail past the Syrian shores and may linger there if need be.

The Interfax news agency, citing unidentified naval sources, reported that the navy command wants the ships to be on hand for the task if needed. It said the mission's duration will depend on the situation in Syria.


Last week, a senior Russian diplomat said for the first time that Syrian President Bashar Assad is losing control and the rebels might win the civil war, a statement that appeared to signal that Moscow has started positioning itself for an endgame in Syria. But the Foreign Ministry disavowed Mikhail Bogdanov's statement the next day, saying his words were misinterpreted and that Moscow's position on the crisis hasn't shifted.


Russia's base in the Syrian port of Tartus is its only naval outpost outside the former Soviet Union. Moscow has been Assad's main ally, shielding him from international sanctions over a brutal crackdown on an uprising that began in March 2011 and turned into the civil war, killing more than 40,000 people.


The latest naval deployment comes as the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that two Russians were kidnapped alongside an Italian in Syria and that their captors have asked for a ransom for their release. The three, who worked at a Syrian steel plant, were kidnapped late Monday on the road between Tartus and Homs.


The ministry identified those kidnapped as V. V. Gorelov, Abdesattar Hassun and Mario Belluomo and said the kidnappers have contacted the Hmisho steel plant by telephone and demanded a ransom for their release. It did not specify the amount.

Then again, ignore all of this: we are confident the UN will soon pass a resolution banning all US evacuating destroyers, and all shall be well in the world, as Russia rolls over and allows "developed world" interests to partition its strategic foreign interests, even if that means handing over its prized possession, European gas dependence, to the west.

Or maybe not.

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slaughterer's picture

From Russia with love...

The Juggernaut's picture

WHO DAT sayin' the Cold War is over?

trav777's picture

so basically the entire russian navy is in the Med?

CPL's picture

Yes, to evac the 120,000 Russians in Syria.


The Russian arm chair military watches this shit like a hawk.  Use Chrome or a plugin translator obviously.

oddjob's picture

So, is your $200 bbl by next week still on?

Paul Bogdanich's picture

Either a mistranslation. a false report or an idiot reporter most probably the latter.  Airplanes have squadrons ships travel in groups submarines in packs. 

boogerbently's picture

How much could this escalate in 3 days? (12-21)

Randall Cabot's picture

US pulls war fleet from Syrian water. Ahmadinejad cancels Turkey visit

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 16, 2012

john39's picture

not sure i buy that part about the U.S. fleet leaving syrian waters...   even if true, is has misdirection written all over it.

Randall Cabot's picture

Debka is said to be a Mossad front so it could very well be misdirection. I haven't seen anything else on this, one way or the other. 

Drag Racer's picture

the misdirection was that the fleet was there in the first place. It was ordered home weeks ago for flight deck repairs. It just so happens is needs to go through the med. to get home.

Spastica Rex's picture

Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming.

otto skorzeny's picture

why don't they bitch about Urban Meyer's fat salary as THE(douchey) Ohio State U FB coach?

swissaustrian's picture

Oh Shit, let's sell gold and silver.

CPL's picture

...what hand would seriously weaken enough to sell the real thing?


Be like selling both your lungs to buy a pack of cigarettes.  Doesn't make any sense.


EL INDIO's picture

I’m wondering how can the Japanese live so long when they have been nuked twice plus Fukushima ?


They shouldn't need pension funds.

CPL's picture

Like selling a porn magazine to a blind man.

Winston Churchill's picture

From my cold dead body.

Hasn't shrunk at all today that I can see.

No Euros please we're British's picture

Now this is what happens when you let a country accumulate gold instead of US$ backed securities. Russia get it. BTFD.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

War....what is it good for?

<Ummmm......mass distraction and manufacturing scapegoats if you really want to know.>

Element's picture

Keeping stocks up thus sparing banks getting gutted

ToNYC's picture

It's tough projecting moral force on the other side of the world when you are using children in new  mexico in trailers playing angry muslims on digital monitors, blowing up other children for whatever god-forsaken malrationale.

mayhem_korner's picture



Presumably those ships are not loaded with bullion...

although that would be just as provocative, no?

Dr. Engali's picture

Or perhaps they are going to load up.

No Euros please we&#039;re British's picture

Actually, I think those ships ARE loaded with bullion. Bullion from the Fed and the LMBA. Oh dear did you say a nasty boating accident? Never mind, all that paper is safe and dry on land.

matsoR's picture

This whole situation sucks really... an interesting aljazeera doc Syria: songs of defiance gives a good view of how bad this whole situation really is for the normal people!

My heart is with the people of syria and I hope they get out of this mess somehow.

yogibear's picture

Great diversion for the fiscal cliff. 

It's all smoke and mirrors in the world of financialization.

Year-end Wall Street bonuses on center stage,

It's all that matters on Wall Street. 

Abitdodgie's picture

The Fed's charter is up on 21/12/2012 , not a word on that.

francis_sawyer's picture

Captain Ramius is 6 weeks late on his "Pillars of Thor" run... 

A. Magnus's picture

Isn't it conveeeenient that we have a mass shooting just days before Crazy Ivan sends his fleets down to Syria to do the End Times Tango?

I'll bet the open interest on all the gun manufacturers would be revealing given today's algo smackdowns...

Freddie's picture

Maybe the son of some Russian involved in librogate will go crazy today. 

Temporalist's picture

In related news:

Putin Said to Seal $7 Billion Russian Arms Deal in India

No Euros please we&#039;re British's picture

Are they paying with gold? Surely not US dollars, that is so 20th century.

trav777's picture

they're still waiting on the Gorshkov...after russia raised the price by 400%

the 30MKI is pretty India-heavy anyway; got some Israeli parts in there as well

I Am Not a Copper Top's picture

No wonder stocks are up

meizu's picture

Putin has personally assured patriarch of the Russian orthodox church that he will defend Syria's orthodox christians

Canucklehead's picture

...a destroyer, a tugboat, a tanker and two large amphibious vessels...

If Syria expects Russia to go to war for them with that firepower, the game truly is up.  Russia has shown it's hand and is folding.

If a "Shooting War" breaks out, I suspect the crews of the tugboat and tanker can use witty "isms" as they call down to the approaching borders.  I realize we are dealing with medieval politics in Syria but does the middle east always have to take a page from Monty Python?

Maybe Monty Python is the new prophet?

How about this one.  A destroyer, a tugboat, a tanker and two large amphibious vessels went into a bar in Syria...

Element's picture

US fleets take self-protected tankers with them, so it's nothing to snear at.

Don't under-estimate your ... and you know the rest.

Those amplibs also have a bit of firepower on deck and can handle themselves, plus put ashore a very useful and flexible range of marine armor and SAMs.

They might need a top-off or three from a tanker. ;)

I'm not so sure the rest of the elements in the med will be going home soon. Why go back empty?  Why go back at all if you have a fresh tanker and stores?

BTW: that tug suggests a longer-term deployed commitment to me. ;)

otto skorzeny's picture

Russians are some mean MFers- a land conflict w/ them would slap some sense into the US armed forces-but then again Uncle Sam usually likes to bully smaller guys.

Monedas's picture

We let Hitler soften them up .... so they were house trained by the time they got to Berlin !

trav777's picture

uh...they had their hands full against Georgia.

Their fleet would be sunk quickly by our navy.  Russia has NEVER been a top-tier naval power.

The strongest navies in the world are the USA (so far in front it's not even close) then Japan  Even the Italians or Spanish, UK or Indians are more formidable than Russia.  Naval power comes from operational experience, not ship quantities or the numbers of big guns on the decks.  This is why China's navy is laughed at.

gallistic's picture

"uh... they had their hands full against Georgia"

Uh... no, that is simply incorrect.

On 8 August 2008 Georgia launched an large military offensive into South Ossetia and Russian troops went from 0-100 MPH very fast. Russia poured troops into Georgia through a narrow, single point of entry (the Roki Tunnel) and ran face-first into heavy fighting with much larger Georgian forces, who had already taken Tskhinvali and occupied positions. 

In just under 5 days Russia captured the cities Poti, Gori, Senaki, and Zugdidi, and had completely carved out two large areas of Georgia (Ossetia and Abkhazia). They controlled almost all of northern Georgia, and had defeated or anhilated all the manuever brigades Georgia had fielded. The Russian 58th Army had a direct line into Tiblisi (the capital city) and could have easily attacked Tiblisi and taken out the Government of Georgia. By August 11, the Georgians were in full-blown apocalypse panic mode, massing everything they had in a defensive position around Tiblisi.

The Russians showed remarkable restraint and halted their advance, satisfied that their strategic goals had been met. If there had been 5 more days of fighting, Georgia would be part of Mother Russia again.

Russia inserted their troops through a single narrow point, fought the Georgians who had all the advantage, dislodged them, "liberated" what are now two independent countries, and absolutely routed Georgia in 5 days.

To say that "they had their hands full against Georgia" is just incorrect.


Element's picture

Indeed, and if you look at the systems and platforms and also the weapon types they did that with, they used all of their LEAST capable hardware to do it. It is incredible what they did with so little technology commited. That is a military you do not want to mix it up with.

Trav you have no clue about this stuff.

Element's picture

Not buying that one. I've never seen anyone really take the piss out of the PLAN. The Chinese aren't beginners and I think your generalisation is not one I would trust to go into battle with. That would be underestimating them in the worst possible way. Yes the USN would be a real bastard of a navy to try and defeat, don't like those chances. But the PLAN are hardly about to try it either. But get close in to them and the home-field advantage kicks in. They would hurt any Navy.

No way the USN wants to go toe to toe with the Russians, why do you think they immediately pulled the carriers back? You can't have nuclear-armed fleets eyeball to eyeball in that situation - and they will both have nukes. The USN could defeat the Russians in the med, of course, but then what? You could lose it all doing that, or poison the waters of international relations for half a century, at the least. Only a vegetable would do that. With Washington though, it's best to never underestimate its insatiable quest for excellence - in dumbness and incompetance.

LeisureSmith's picture

This whole ting makes me wonder what's lurking under the surface. Superpower chess with submersible pieces.