The Mediterranean Sea is home to much of the world's recent upheavals. Libya, Egypt, and Syria are but a few of the countries engulfed in the Arab Spring that sprang last December. According to Wikipedia, Syrian citizens jumped on the Arab Spring Express in March 2011.
March is four months into the Russian military training year. And training year plans are laid out well before the new training year begins. Thus, the Admiral Kuznetsov deployment was scheduled before the first Arab Spring demonstrations and protests even began.
So why are Russian and non-Russian news outlets so interested in this routine deployment? The tagline that sells, it seems, is that Russia is racing to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea to support the failing Syrian regime. Really? How exactly?
- Showing the flag? That mission could have been performed any time this past year by sending naval combatant ships and intelligence collection vessels from Russia's Black Sea Fleet to sit off the Syrian coast. Russia's Black Sea Fleet has been to the Mediterranean Sea several times this year, and the only thing that came near Syria was the Amur-class floating repair vessel PM-56, which has been deployed to the Syrian port of Tartus for several few months. It's not there to support the Syrian regime, but rather to provide support (if needed) for Russian Navy ships operating in the Mediterranean Sea.
- Gunboat diplomacy? Despite its original specifications, Admiral Kuznetsov is no longer capable of firing SS-N-19 Shipwreck cruise missiles, the only surface-to-surface missile it was designed to carry; however, it is armed with surface-to-air missiles. The accompanying combatants (Admiral Chabanenko, Yaroslav Mudryy, and (soon) Ladnyy) are armed with various surface-to-surface missiles (SS-N-22 Sunburn and SS-N-25 Switchblade), surface-to-air missiles, and heavy artillery. If you plan to sink some enemy ships, then you have the right missiles. If you plan to conduct precision attacks on key enemy strongholds well inside Syrian borders, you're out of luck.
Now, if you really want to find something of interest to report, why not look at what will happen at the tail-end of the deployment... that will be something to see!