It was just yesterday, when we reported on the build up of Russian naval forces in the Meditteranean, in this case two new marine-carrying amphibious assault ships, that we made a simple forecast: "Our prediction: the next ship to be dispatched in direction Syria will be the missile cruiser Moskva, the "flag ship of the Black Sea fleet" and more of its affiliated warships... That, and a whole lot of submarines." We were right.
- RUSSIA SENDS MISSILE CRUISER MOSKVA TO EAST MEDITERRANEAN: IFX
- RUSSIA SENDS DESTROYER, FRIGATE TO EAST MEDITERRANEAN: IFX
- RUSSIA HAS WARSHIPS, SPY VESSELS MONITORING MEDITERRANEAN: IFX
- RUSSIA PREPARED TO ADJUST SIZE OF MEDITERRANEAN BUILDUP: IFX
The deployment is, more than anything, symbolic. It means Russia will no longer take US military build up in the region on the sidelines. Because while the Mediterranean build up is inevitable (and can be tracked here), the next step will be the arrival of Russian air and land-based support in Syria. Oh, and China. Let's not forget China.
More from Reuters:
Russia is sending a missile cruiser to the east Mediterranean to take over the navy's operations in the region, state agency Interfax quoted a military source as saying on Wednesday, as the United States prepares for a possible military strike in Syria.
President Barack Obama has won backing from key figures in the U.S. Congress in his call for limited U.S. strikes on Syria to punish President Bashar al-Assad for his suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians.
The ship, Moskva, will take over operations from a naval unit in the region that Moscow says is needed to protect national interests. It will be joined by a destroyer from Russia's Baltic Fleet and a frigate from the Black Sea Fleet.
"The Cruiser Moskva is heading to the Gibraltar Straits. In approximately 10 days it will enter the east Mediterranean, where it will take over as the flagship of the naval task force," the source said.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Russia has no intention of getting dragged into any military conflict over Syria.
Earlier this week, Interfax reported that Russia was also sending a reconnaissance ship to the region but that it would operate separately from the naval unit.
Elsewhere, rumor has it all of Congress has been nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.