Steaming to Tartus

Ahoy there, we have some new ships heading for the Mediterranean:

The Russian aircraft carrier “Admiral Kuznetsov” is ready to head from Murmansk towards the Mediterranean and the Syrian port of Tartus. The mission comes after Syrian President Bashar Assad said he is open for a Russian base in the area.

Robert Farley points out the Israel angle, in which the Russians might “relish this deployment as an opportunity to send a message to Israel” over its close military ties with Georgia. I think “relish” is the right word, and it applies perhaps more to Syria than to Putin. For Damascus, the appearance of having earned another patron will be played to the hilt. For Russia, docking at Tartus is simply another means of issuing a blunt communique to the world, and securing another venue through which to annoy the United States and its allies. It will be interesting to see the U.S. Navy’s response to the presence of a Russian fleet in the Mediterranean.