Part of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, frigate Admiral Grigorovich arrived off the Syrian coast on Friday to join the country's existing naval presence in the region.
According to the Guardian, the Grigorovich—one of Russia's most modern warships— has “fearsome ground attack capability in the form of Kalibr land-attack cruise missiles."
The frigate arrived as the latest pause in Syrian regime and Russian air strikes on Aleppo came to an end Friday night, bringing with it fears that the Kalibr missiles might be used against rebel forces in the fight for the key city. Russia has been accused of using the missiles—said to have a range of 1,500 kilometres (930) miles—in Syria in 2015.
Grigorovich left Crimean port of Sevastopol on November 3. The frigate passed through the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey on Thursday.
More photos from Admiral Grigorovich's passage through Istanbul Strait. She will possible join Kuznetsov TG in Eastern Med. pic.twitter.com/TZJ4sQEggQ
— Bosphorus Naval News (@Saturn5_) November 4, 2016
In October, an eight-ship battle group—including Russia's sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, nuclear-powered battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy, two anti-submarine warships and four support vessels—started moving towards Mediterranean where they were expected to join around 10 other Russian vessels already off the Syrian coast.
The New York Times had described Admiral Kuznetsov as “Russia’s lone, rather geriatric aircraft carrier”, which Kremlin was using as a “latest attempt to reassert its lost superpower status.” The article said the carrier was prone to breakdowns but was to “bolster the military operations propping up President Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s main Arab ally.”
The Guardian reported even though Kuznetsov faces frequent breakdowns, it might have been accompanied by more lethal submarines armed with cruise missiles.
Admiral Grigorovich is another story altogether. It is a state-of-the-art frigate which adds to Russia’s naval power considerably and its ability to attack Syria in support of the regime.
After the annexation of Crimea, the Black Sea fleet has been strengthened considerably as has Russia’s multi-layered military defence system in the region: on ground in the port city of Tartus in Syria and looming large in off the coast with a powerful naval fleet with long-range missiles.
— DigitalGlobe (@DigitalGlobe) October 31, 2016
With the limited ceasefire in Aleppo having come to an end, innocent civilians are still caught between determined rebel groups and non-existent safe passages, passages promised by Russia and the Syrian regime. Between fighter jet carrying Admiral Kuznetsov and the missile-armed frigate Grigorovich, eastern Aleppo stands naked, exposed and vulnerable with its 250,000-strong populace – if the Russian lineup is anything more than a flexing of military might.