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Published in Press Stream:
October 14, 2015

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Published in Stream:
October 14, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian Navy Denies That Aircraft Carrier Is Being Sent To Syrian Coast
5 years
Stream: October 14, 2015
Publication: Putin in Syria
Russia Continues To Pound Rebel-Held Areas While Claims Of Regime-ISIS Collaboration Near Aleppo Circulate

There are reports from some Russian media sources today that Russia's sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, is being deployed to the Syrian coast to support Russia's air operations in the country.

Russia's FlashNord news site reported, citing a "source in the Northern Fleet command," that the Admiral Kuznetsov would set sail from Murmansk by the end of the week.

The source told FlashNord (translated by The Interpreter):

"The carrier has undergone dock repairs and will, by the end of the week, set off for the shores of Syria, where it will join the operation to destroy the Islamic State group."

According to FlashNord's source, repairs on the carrier were completed in August and the navy has since then been restoring the vessel to full combat readiness.

Several major Russian news outlets, including Kommersant and Slon.ru covered the FlashNord report.

However the Russian Northern Fleet has now denied these claims.

Gazeta.ru reports that the Northern Fleet's press office released a statement this afternoon saying that no combat operations or long deployments were planned for the Admiral Kuznetsov in the near future. 

The state-owned TASS news agency reported yesterday that work to restore the Admiral Kuznetsov to combat readiness had been completed and that the ship would leave Murmansk before the end of the week, setting out into Kola Bay, where it will be prepared for sea.

TASS did not mention any deployment to Syrian waters, instead reporting that the carrier would be used for pilot training operations.

The Admiral Kuznetsov was launched in 1985 but has only completed a handful of short deployments, suffering from major issues with its powerplant, piping and circuitry

In 2013, The Interpreter's editor-in-chief, Michael Weiss, was told by a source close to the US Navy that American ships had stayed close to the carrier on its last deployment to Syria to be on hand in the event that the Admiral Kuznetsov sank.

Furthermore, the ski-ramp design of the carrier, combined with the heavy Sukhoi Su-33 fighters it carries, means that only light-load operations can be conducted from it.

There seems little benefit in using the Kuznetsov to bomb positions in Syria when the Hmeemeem/Bassel al-Assad airbase in the Latakia province is being used by heavily-laden Russian bombers.

Instead any deployment would either be a move to warn off Western air forces and navies from operating off Syria's coast, or an emergency fall-back in the event that rebel fighters threaten the Latakia airbase. 

-- Pierre Vaux