The possibility for an armed confrontation between the US and Russia is now highly present, says Russian defense analyst.
This week Western defense followed closely as a group of ten Russian warships have moved south along the Norwegian coast on its way to Syria.
In the Russian press, warships from the Russian Northern Fleet are called "Moscow's oceanic fist."
On Thursday night the fleet will probably reach the English Channel. There, at least two British naval vessels are waiting to escort the Russians as they pass the narrow strait between Britain and France.
The British defense minister stressed that the Royal Navy's eyes will be glued on the Russians.
"We will be watching as part of our steadfast commitment to keep Britain safe," Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said
Has sent everything
That the Russian navy sails, is not unusual in itself. But the size of the fleet that is now on its way to Syria, is absolutely extraordinary in recent times.
- It's a demonstration of strength, says Thomas Slensvik at the Norwegian Armed Forces Staff College to TV2.
- This is everything that is battle-ready in the Russian fleet.
Information TV 2 has obtained from various Russian sources indicates that naval vessels from all over Russia are actually on their way to the Middle East right now. Vladimir Putin is sending almost everything that can float to Syria.
According to the Russian newspaper Lenta, ships were also sent from Vladivostok last weekend. Officially, these warships have the Indian Ocean as their destination, but according to the Russian online newspaper's military experts, they do not exclude that also this force will be going through the Suez Canal and to the waters of Syria.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg expressed concern that the Russian ships will be used to intensify the fighting in already embattled Aleppo.
- We are concerned that Russia's warships are going to support military operations in Syria in ways that will aggravate the suffering of the civilians, said Stoltenberg to NTB, from the headquarters in Brussels.
Largest since the Cold War
In addition to ten Russian navy vessels already operating in the eastern Mediterranean, the total Russian strength will now come up to at least 26 ships. This is confirmed by Russia's best-known independent defense analyst Pavel Felgenhauer, who is known to have very good sources in the Russian defense.
- According to reports, the strength will be at around 20 gunships. In addition, a variety of support vessels, says Felgenhauer to TV 2.
Cmdr Thomas Slensvik at the Armed Forces Staff College stated that this is a sensational deployment of naval forces.
- If all these vessels are gathered simultaneously in the eastern Mediterranean, it is probably the largest maritime deployment that Russia has had since the Cold War.
The cause of the dramatic escalation is likely that several American and British politicians want a no-fly zone over Syria to stop the slaughter of civilians in Aleppo. Meanwhile, EU leaders now also discuss the possibility of more sanctions against Russia for the ruthless bombing in the country lately.
Russia has made it clear that no-fly zones or western attacks against the Syrian government forces would be totally unacceptable, and Vladimir Putin is now putting power behind the words by sending the entire Navy.
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