As EU is planning to impose new sanctions against Russia over Syria, Putin’s nuke fleet is moving through the Mediterranean Sea to prop up help to the government of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Russian Northern fleet— which includes nuclear aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and battle cruiser Peter the Great—is seen as Putin’s biggest show off of power in recent years.
The Royal British Navy is on alert watching the fleet closely as eight high tech ships will be passing through the English Channel. There are also planned drills off the Scottish coast to allegedly prepare the pilots for combat missions in Syria.
Russian media in the meantime has already mocked the Royal Navy as “tiny”, claimed that NATO is worried to see Russia’s military strength and that Russia is ready to seize control of the Mediterranean sea.
“While the North Atlantic bloc is stalling in the sands of the Middle East, Russia’s fleet is gaining control in the Atlantic, not to mention the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Russia is ahead which threatens Western bloc and America’s ‘exclusiveness’,” reported one of the Russian newspapers.
Russian media has also been reporting on American fleet Mount Whitney that entered the Black sea on October 11th to “conduct theater security cooperation and key leader engagement events with allies”. Russian sailors are watching closely the American fleet, ready to engineer a standoff in case the ship comes closer to the Russian borders.
Tensions between Russia and the West over Syria have escalated dramatically since the cease-fire deal fell apart last month. After Russian planes started heavy bombardment campaign over Aleppo, the U.S. and Western officials (total 28 nations) said that the attack “may amount to war crime”.
The EU is now considering pushing more sanctions against Russia.
Putin, however, is defiant– calls it “blackmail” and demands that all the sanctions are revoked and that Russia is compensated for damages incurred by U.S. sanctions and by Russia’s “forced counter sanctions”.
On Wednesday Russian Parliament approved Putin’s decision to suspend a deal with the United States on the disposal of plutonium unless U.S. revokes anti-Russian sanctions and pulls back forces near its borders.
“If the U.S. moves to expand sanctions, we will take measures that would be quite painful to the U.S. positions in the world,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.
Western commentators however seemed supremely unbothered. The UK joined the US in threatening its own sanctions, and Ecuador was forced to cut the internet of Julian Assange. Western media noted that Putin is in trouble domestically as Russia has now been in recession for 18 months.
The UK also spoke about imposing a no-bomb zone in Syria. This would include attacks on Russian jets that attempted to violate the peace. The Russians can only do what the West permits them to do and there are signs that the patience of America is running out.
When Turkey shot down a Russian jet for entering its airspace, there were no consequences, even for that tiny nation. Russia is unable to attack a member of NATO because Putin is too afraid to risk war with a real power.
In the mean time Russia is pretending to try to tip the naval balance of power away from NATO and its current presence in the Mediterranean might be an example of that.