Russian carrier-based jets perform ‘interaction’ flights in Syria

A Sukhoi Su-27K fighter takes off from the heavy aircraft carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov of the Russian Northern Fleet. © Oleg Lastochkin
Aircraft stationed on the decks of Russia’s aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, which recently arrived near Syria’s shores as part of a Russian battle group, have begun carrying out flights aimed at working out interaction with a coastal airfield, the ship’s captain reported.

“The flights are performed from the deck of the aircraft-carrying heavy cruiser. Interaction with a coastal airfield is being worked out,” Sergey Artamonov, Admiral Kuznetsov's captain, told the ‘Vesti v Subbotu’ program on Rossiya TV channel.

According to the him, the flights have been carried out on a daily basis over the last four days.

The Russian Northern fleet battle group, consisting of Admiral Kuznetsov, the Pyotr Velikiy battle cruiser, two large anti-submarine ships Severomorsk and Vice-Admiral Kulakov as well as support vessels, arrived in the Mediterranean in early November.

Pyotr Velikiy's commander, Vladislav Malakhovsky, said that the Russian vessels aren’t being bothered by aircraft of other nations.

“Nobody is flying above us. Everybody is afraid of approaching us closer than 50 kilometers, understanding the might of the cruisers (Pyotr Velikiy and Admiral Kuznetsov),” Malakhovsky said.

Earlier this week, Russian media cited Defense Ministry sources, which said that the planes and vessels from the battle group are ready to attack terrorist targets on the outskirts of Syria’s Aleppo to prevent more militants from entering the city.

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The Russian fleet’s journey from the North Atlantic to the Mediterranean has caused quite a stir in the West. Its passing through the English Channel made headlines as Russian ships were escorted by the Royal Navy, while reporters gathered in Dover to watch the battle group.

Spain and Malta announced that they were denying refueling to the fleet refuel in their ports, while Moscow said that its ships never planned to enter the ports of any of the countries. 

Russia has been carrying a bombing campaign against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and other groups in Syria at the request of President Bashar Assad since September 2015.