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Russia sends cruise missile ships to Mediterranean

10 October 2016
The Russian Buyan-M corvette Zelyony Dol, seen returning from the Mediterranean in September. Source: Russian Ministry of Defence

Three Russians warships, including two armed with long-range land-attack cruise missiles, have been sent to the Mediterranean.

Russia's TASS news agency reported on 5 October that the Black Sea Fleet's Buyan-M class corvettes Serpukhov and Zelyony Dol had left their home port of Sevastopol on 4 October and were en route to the Mediterranean.

A day later TASS reported that the Nanuchka-III class (Project 1234) missile corvette Mirazh had sailed from Sevastopol for the Mediterranean.

"In the Mediterranean Sea, the Serpukhov and Zelyony Dol are set to join the permanent operational task force in the distant maritime zone on a planned rotational basis," TASS quoted Russian Black Sea Fleet spokesman Nikolai Voskresensky as saying.

The Russian Navy has maintained a task group off Syria since September 2015.

Turkish ship observers confirmed the southbound passage of Serpukhov and Zelyony Dol , with photographs of them passing through the Bosphorus appearing on social media on 5 October.

Commissioned in December 2015, the two Buyan-Ms operated in the Eastern Mediterranean for just over a month from mid-August and carried out a strike against targets in Syria on 19 August using Kalibr NK cruise missiles. The missiles have a range of more than 1,500 km.

Mirazh does not have land-attack missiles, but is normally armed with P-120 Malakhit (SS-N-9 'Siren') anti-ship missiles.

Open-source monitoring of naval movements through the Bosphorus indicates that the Russian naval group in the Eastern Mediterranean currently comprises the Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate Admiral Grigorovich , the Krivak-class frigate Pytlivy , and the minesweeper Ivan Golubets . They are supported by a number of ocean-going tugs and repair ships.

The deployment of three more warships came after Russia announced that it is deploying an S-300 long-range air defence system to the Syrian port of Tartus.

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