Saturday, July 14, 2012

UPDATE 2: The Curious Case of Alaed

A couple days after my previous update, the Alaed story grew new wings.  First, the Russian MOD informed the world that Northern Fleet Udaloy II-class destroyer Admiral Chabanenko, three landing ships and two auxiliary vessels had departed port bound for the Atlantic Ocean, where they will be met by Baltic Fleet Neustrashimyy-class frigate Yaroslav Mudryy and a tanker... Sound familiar?

While Rosoboroneksport has officially denied any of the MI-25 helicopters are being transported to Syria by the landing ships, it did not deny reporting that other cargo (munitions, missiles, and the like) is, in fact, being transported to Syria by means of the Northern Fleet landing ships.

And, so, Alaed continues its southerly transit of the Norwegian Sea en route to the Baltic Sea.  The vessel, which was last located near 69-39N 014-24E (heading 228 degrees, speed 13.3 knots) at 1017 GMT on July 12, is reportedly heading for Baltiysk.  It remains to be seen whether the helicopters will be offloaded there or in St. Petersburg.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

UPDATE 1: The Curious Case of Alaed

Not much news has been forthcoming regarding the status of Alaed since it arrived in Murmansk last month. Over the past week, however, internet chatter seemed to indicate that Moscow has found a work-around for shipping the weapons and military hardware to Syria using Russian Navy ships.

Laying out all of the internet chatter, it appears that three Northern Fleet landing ships, accompanied by Udaloy II-class destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and a few auxiliary vessels, will depart Severomorsk soon for the Mediterranean Sea and then the Black Sea for participation in the operational-strategic command-staff exercise Kavkaz-2012, which will be held in September.  The Baltic Fleet's Neustrashimyy-class frigates Neustrashimyy and Yaroslav Mudryy, as well as Uda-class oiler Lena, will rendezvous with the Northern Fleet task group  in the Atlantic Ocean as it heads for the Mediterranean Sea (and possibly to the Black Sea).

But the most interesting part of the story is how this relates to Alaed.  According to one source, one or more of the Northern Fleet landing ships will be carrying at least a portion of Alaed's "contraband" to Syria, presumably along the way to the Black Sea.  Indeed, a crewmember of one of the Northern Fleet's landing ships recently confirmed his ship would be heading to Syria soon.  If this scenario plays out as it appears, then there is very little the EU or NATO will be able to do to stop the shipment from reaching Syria.