According to the latest Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), the Russian Navy’s Mediterranean task force will host naval exercises off the coast of Syria for several weeks. The starting point of the naval exercise will begin on July 11, just five days before Russian and US Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet in Finland’s capital of Helsinki to discuss the complicated situation in Syria.
The location of the war drill will be in the Eastern Mediterranean between the Syrian coast and the Southern part of Cyprus across the port of Tartus, which will be reserved for 10 to 20 warships conducting missile drills from July 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 and 26, the Russian News Agency TASS reported.
During the exercise, the airspace will be shut down from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Moscow time. The NOTAM mentioned that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is the “only legitimate and competent authority to provide air traffic and aeronautical informational within the limits of the advisory airspace.”
“REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE NOTAMS A1006/18 AND A1007/18 DATED 05 JULY 2018 ISSUED BY THE GREEK CYPRIOT ADMINISTRATION OF SOUTHERN CYPRUS CONCERNING RUSSION NAVAL EXERCISE AND THE IMPLEMENTATION DCTS AND ROUTE PLANNING. WE WOULD LIKE TO STATE THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF THE TURKISH REPUBLIC OF NORTHERN CYPRUS IS THE ONLY LEGITIMATE AND COMPETENT AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE AIR TRAFFIC AND AERONAUTICAL INFORMATION SERVICES WITHIN THE LIMITS OF ERCAN ADVISORY AIRSPACE. THEREFORE NOTAMS A1006/18 AND A1007/18 DATED 05 JULY 2018 ISSUED BY THE GREEK CYPRIOT ADMINISTRATION OF SOUTHERN CYPRUS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED NULL AND VOID,” the NOTAM read.
TASS mentioned that the warships would conduct missile drills with a variety of precision-guided weapons. In particular, Russian frigate Admiral Essen, a guided missile frigate of the Admiral Grigorovich class – based with the Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol, armed with the Kalibr missile system (NATO codename: ‘Sizzler’) will be participating in the exercise.
Quoted by TASS, the press office of the Russian Black Sea Fleet reported on June 18, Buyan-class corvettes Grad Sviyazhsk and Veliky Ustyug armed with Kalibr missile systems started their journey to the Mediterranean Sea from Sevastopol.
With a dozen or more Russian warships mainly from the Black Sea Fleet gather off Syria’s coast for future missile drills ahead of the Trump-Putin summit, it seems as Moscow is sending the CIA and the Pentagon a stern warning if relations after the summit falter.
Let us hope that does not happen because Trump’s desire to remove US forces from Syria before October will enable him to declare the proverbial “Mission Accomplished” in defeating Daesh or Islamic State for the upcoming US mid-term elections.