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Military Capabilities

Russia moves more strike assets to Eastern Mediterranean

21 March 2019
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A Russian Project 636.3 ‘Kilo’-class diesel-electric submarine – identified by Turkish ship spotters as - is escorted by a Turkish Coast Guard vessel as it makes a southbound transit through the Dardanelles on 15 March. Source: Burak Akay/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Russia appears to be moving additional air and naval assets into Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean, giving its military commanders more options in the theatre.

A Project 636.3 'Kilo'-class diesel-electric submarine was seen transiting the Bosphorus form the Black Sea into the Mediterranean on 14 March. While Russian subs are unmarked, Turkish ship spotters identified it as Krasnodar .

A day later, the Russian Ministry of Defence reported that Stary Oskol , another Project 636.3 serving with the Black Sea Fleet's 4th Independent Submarine Brigade, was preparing to put to sea.

Earlier in March, the Commander of the 4th Independent Submarine Brigade stated in the Black Sea Fleet newspaper that both Krasnodar and Starry Oskol were preparing for long deployments, Jane's has been told.

The commander did not state where the two boats would go but suggested their destination could be the Syrian port of Tartus when he said that the two 636.3s currently stationed there, Kolpino and Velikiy Novgorod , were getting ready to sail to the Black Sea.

Although assigned to the Black Sea Fleet, these two boats have never been to their home base as they have been operating out of Tartus since September 2017, when they arrived in the Mediterranean from the Baltic after being commissioned.

The Black Sea Fleet's Project 1155 Udaloy-class destroyer Severomorsk was transiting the Bosphorus for the Mediterranean on 15 March. The modern Project 11356M Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate Admiral Essen made the same journey on 1 March.

The Russian Navy's newest frigate, the Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov , and its support group passed through the Straits of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean on 12 March. However, AIS transponder data showing the movements of some of its support ships - the tug Nikolay Chiker and supply ship Elbrus - indicated that the group passed through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea on 20 March.

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