Russia Sends More Warships Toward Syria Following U.S. Tomahawk Strikes

USNI News – A Russian Navy surface action group is headed to the Eastern Mediterranean departing shortly after a U.S. Tomahawk missile strike on a Syrian airfield.

The Role of the Black Sea in Russia’s Strategic Calculus

CIMSEC – For Russia to achieve its long-term strategic objectives, its supremacy in the Black Sea is a critically enabling factor. The unique geography of the region confers several geopolitical advantages to Russia in its confrontation with the West. As such, the Kremlin has sought measures to strengthen its hold over the region. Firstly, it has sought to weaken NATO’s ties to the regional states, working to drive wedges into these relationships, and using military force when necessary to stop the Alliance’s expansion. Secondly, it has been expanding its military capabilities in order to challenge NATO’s presence in the region and ultimately dominate the Black Sea.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Buildup and Modernization

CIMSEC – Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia’s naval fleets have been severely neglected. Corruption, defense budget shortfalls, and higher military priorities are among the factors that have prevented the modernization and buildup of the Russian navy. Of the four separate naval fleets—the Baltic, Black Sea, Northern, and Pacific Fleets—Russia’s Black Sea Fleet remains one of the most neglected and obsolete. The 2008 Russo-Georgian war revealed to Russia the need to modernize and increase the size of its Black Sea Fleet, which was reinforced during the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea when NATO naval presence increased in the region.

Russia’s Most Powerful Nuclear Attack Submarine Ever Is Almost Ready for Sea

National Interest – Russia is set to launch its second Yasen-class nuclear-powered attack submarine on March 30. Called Kazan, the new vessel is an upgraded Project 885M design that is in many ways much more capable than the lead ship of the class, K-560 Severodvinsk.

Russia Reported to Start Syrian Naval Base Expansion this Spring

USNI News – Russia will start construction on a planned five-year expansion of its naval base in Syria this spring, officials said in Russian state media.

Ilyushin Unveils Il-38 ASW Upgrade for Russian Navy

AIN – The Ilyushin design bureau and the Russian navy have revealed details of a mission systems upgrade and airframe refurbishment of the Il-38 antisubmarine warfare (ASW) aircraft. At a ceremony on January 31 at Ramenskoye airbase south of Moscow, Russian naval aviation commander Gen. Igor Kozhin said that “about 30” of the 54 Il-38s in the inventory will be modernized, in a program that will continue until 2025.

Dr. Tom Fedyszyn on Russian Navy Operations, Acquisition, and Doctrine

CIMSEC – Insightful interview on the current state of the Russian Navy.

A new Russian weapon may give it an underwater advantage

The Economist – The principle of supercavitation continues to intrigue torpedo designers.

Russia, Syria Agree on Mediterranean Naval Base Expansion, Refit of Syrian Ships

USNI News – Russia and Syria have signed an agreement this week to expand Russia’s sole foreign base – a naval repair facility in Syria – into a larger naval base capable of permanently hosting 11 ships. The agreement would allow the Tartus installation to expand to berth larger surface combatants and submarines

Russia Pulling Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov from Mediterranean

USNI News – Russia is recalling the Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov from the Eastern Mediterranean and sending the ship back to its homeport in northern Russia.

Russia Wants to Sell Arms to the Philippines, Hold Joint Naval Drills

USNI News – As the U.S. relationship with the Philippines has come under rhetorical assault from President Rodrigo Duterte, Moscow has moved closer to Manila offering to sell arms and to start a bilateral military exercise program.

The Ambitions and Challenges of Russia’s Naval Modernization Program

CIMSEC – A lot has been said about Chinese naval modernization in recent years. However, China is not the only country that is currently investing in a modern naval force. Since 2011 Russia has been implementing its own naval modernization program. This comes after a period of neglect the as Russia Federal Navy (Russian Navy) is looking to build as many as a 100 new warships by 2020.

The Mediterranean: Driving Russia’s Strategic Decisions Since 1676

CIMSEC – Russian involvement in Ukraine and Syria share one common thread which Russia has been fighting for since the first Russo-Turkish war in 1676. Tartus in Syria and Sevastopol in Crimea are warm water ports which provide direct Russian access to the Mediterranean or access via the Black Sea and the Dardanelles.

The New Red Scare

Harpers – Andrew Cockburn, the author of the Cold War classic “The Threat” on the Soviet Union’s hollow military, now writes on the reviving of the art of threat inflation today.

Russian Su-33 crashed in the Mediterranean while attempting to land on Kuznetsov aircraft carrier

Aviationist – Less than three weeks after losing a MiG-29, it looks like the Russian Navy has lost another aircraft during Admiral Kuznetsov operations: a Su-33 Flanker.

These maps show how Russia has Europe spooked

Washington Post – The Kremlin has brushed off Western concerns about its deployment of cutting-edge missile systems in its Kaliningrad enclave, saying that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was the one disrupting the strategic balance with its plans to put antimissile defenses on Russia’s borders. But the Russian arsenal on the Baltic, some of which has been tested in Syria, is potentially a game-changer.

Analyst shows why Russian ‘Death fleet’ is so smoky

Ukraine TV – Russian aircraft carrier ‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ battle group is easily identified from space due to its smoke trace. ‘Landsat 8′ satellite captured the Russian Navy carrier battle group in the Mediterranean on photo, Military Aviation News website ‘Alert 5’ informs. On the picture taken on November 8 the carrier’s smoke plume was visible from space. Ukrainian military analyst and blogger Olexandr Kovalenko explained the reason of this effect.

Russian MiG-29 fighter jet crashes in Mediterranean

BBC – A Russian MiG-29 fighter jet has crashed into the Mediterranean Sea as it tried to land on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.

Russian Blue-Water Navy is a Pipe Dream

Proceedings of the US Naval Institute – The aspiration to be a first-rate maritime power is beyond Russia’s maritime potential and industrial capacity, and Russia’s ambitions in the world’s oceans are out of reach.

Russia sending three submarines to Syria in preparation for major Aleppo assault

Independent – Three Russian submarines armed with cruise missiles have reportedly joined a naval battleforce heading towards Syria. The Royal Navy and Nato have been tracking the two Akula-class submarines and a diesel-powered Kilo-class sub as they travelled to join the fleet of Russian ships headed by the Soviet-era aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.

Russian Carrier Deployment to Syria is Propaganda, not Practical

USNI News – If there isn’t military purpose of the Russian fleet to be off Syria why are they going there?

Bosphorus ship spotters set sights on Russian warships

AFP – Several Russian warships pass in both directions through the Bosphorus every week, transporting cargo for Moscow’s military campaign in Syria, in a massive logistical effort known as the “Syrian Express”. Their passage through the densely-populated Turkish metropolis represents a unique chance to see close up a deployed Russian warship that would usually be kept well away from prying eyes. And each time they come, a group of amateur but well-informed and hugely dedicated Turkish ship spotters are there to photograph them and share their work on social media where their following has shot up.

Russian warships: Spain says refuelling request withdrawn

BBC – Russia has withdrawn a request for three warships to dock at the Spanish port of Ceuta for refuelling, following concern among Nato allies.

Spain urged not to allow refuelling of Russian warships

BBC – Spain is coming under pressure from Nato allies not to allow the refuelling of Russian warships in the Kuznetsov carrier group bound for Syria.

Entering the Bear’s Lair: Russia’s A2/AD Bubble in the Baltic Sea

National Interest – With NATO’s eyes on the defense of its Baltic members and a growing view that Poland is NATO’s new center of gravity in the East, a Kaliningrad A2/AD zone projects advanced ground, naval, and air threats, creating significant security challenges.