Russia on Thursday moved its largest Soviet-era aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, from its current location off the coast of northern Syria to a new home in the Mediterranean Sea.
The ship has a history of mechanical problems and has never engaged in combat. The ship is scheduled to start bombing runs against the Islamic State in October and run through January.
With the history of the ship’s mechanical problems and breakdowns, Russia has left themselves some breathing room in case something happens to the ship. According to news.com.au, “Moscow has also given itself some wiggle-room if the troubled 55,000-ton warship can’t put to sea or launch attacks: the government news agency quotes just one ‘anonymous’ source for the report.” they reported.
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The new location of the ship places it closer to Turkey, a nation with which Russia has suffered deteriorated diplomatic relations in the past year. The Turkish government last year ordered the downing of a Russian fighter jet that had trespassed into Turkish airspace, the latest of several similar incidents in which Turkey first lodged a protest. Following last week’s terrorist attack on the main airport in Istambul, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan quickly blamed it on Russia when it was revealed that the terrorists hailed from Russia’s Caucus region.
According to Fox News:
Late last year Moscow sent the anti-aircraft cruiser Moskova to the northern borders of Syria after one of Russia’s combat jets was shot down for violating Turkish air space. Moscow has also repeatedly voiced its concerns at a recent build-up of US naval forces in the Mediterranean – including two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers – as part of its ongoing operations against Islamic State.