If it wasn’t clear before that Russia intends to be prepared to “fight the Arctic,” it should be now. A report from last week indicates that the Russians plan to put “Bastion” anti-ship missile systems at their Arctic bases in 2015, to go along with airfield improvements, aircraft deployments, and installation of mobile anti-air missile systems and early warning radars for a network of bases that extends from one end of Russia’s Arctic coast to the other, and well into the Arctic Ocean.
There is certainly a question as to what “threat” Russia imagines herself to be countering with the deployment of the cruise missile systems.
But that’s really asking the wrong question. Given the dearth of non-Russian surface ship traffic through the area in question (maps 1 and 2), and the certainty that other nations with Arctic claims have no motive to put ships in that area against Russia’s will, a more accurate interpretation of this move is that Russia seeks to hold a geomilitary veto over the sea-lanes, in a manner similar to the veto sought by China over the South China Sea.Continue reading “Russia defines Arctic intentions with supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles”
The coast of Syria is getting crowded. Russia has retained a naval support infrastructure there since the end of the Cold War, resuming warship visits in 2008. The Russians reportedly will make improvements to the port of Tartus this year, with the intention of using it as a base for naval operations by 2012-13.
The Iranian ships that came through the Suez Canal last week are in Latakia, Syria, where high-level visits and official celebrations attended their arrival. Iran bills the ship deployment as a peace-and-friendship outreach – a message somewhat undercut by the musings of the Syrian defense minister, who reportedly says the presence of the warships “cripples Israel.” (It doesn’t; and it looks like the Iranian ships are heading home now anyway.) Iran and Syria signed a naval cooperation pact on 25 February, which DEBKAfile says includes an agreement to base Iranian forces at Latakia.