Russia sends 2 additional warships to Syria amid tensions over US cruise missile strike

FILE PHOTO: The Russian Navy’s frigate Admiral Grigorovich sails in the Bosphorus on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul
Thomson Reuters

Russia sent two corvettes, an oiler, and a tug boat to the Eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Syria days after two US Navy ships fired 59 cruise missiles at an airfield controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a defense official told the US Naval Institute.

The ships should reach the area within the next several days.

Tensions between the US and Russia have peaked since the US struck Russia’s stalwart ally, Assad, over what the US believes was a chemical weapons attack orchestrated by Syrian and Russian forces.

Russia has warned of “extremely serious” consequences for the US strike and reportedly suspended key military agreements with the US that heighten the risk of war.

The Russian ships will join the Admiral Grigorovich, which was the first Russian ship to respond after the strike. The Russian ships field very long range land attack cruise missiles, which Russian forces debuted from the Caspian Sea against targets in Syria in 2015.

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria on April 7, 2017.
Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

Navy Admiral Michelle Howard, who heads NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy, recently told Reuters that Russia’s worldwide naval activity now exceeds Cold-war levels.

“They’re a global navy,” Howard said of the activity and potency of Russia’s military ships.