Russia appears to be readying for a naval battle with the US near Syria - but it could be a bluff

Russia appears to be readying for a naval battle with the US near Syria - but it could be a bluff

Russia Navy Day

Stringer/REUTERS

Russian navy ships fire off missiles at a parade.

  • Russia's navy appears to have responded to President Donald Trump's warning that US missiles are headed to Syria, as well as the US Navy's deployment of an aircraft carrier to the region.
  • The Russian military has said it is tracking the movements of the US Navy after Trump's warning. In the past, the US has used Navy ships to attack Syria.
  • 11 Russian navy ships were seen leaving a port in Syria, but an expert said it could be a bluff.


Russia's navy appears to have responded to President Donald Trump's warning that US missiles are headed to Syria after he claimed that the Syrian government has again conducted chemical warfare on its own people.

The Russian military has said it is tracking the movements of the US Navy after Trump's warning, according to Reuters. In April 2017, the US struck Syria over another chemical weapons attack, firing 59 cruise missiles from US Navy destroyers.

Now, satellite imagery and reports indicate that 11 Russian warships have left port in Syria, including a submarine.

The US Navy reportedly has dispatched a aircraft carrier strike group to the region, though it will likely take around a week to get in position. The US regularly deploys aircraft carriers to the region to carry out airstrikes on ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria. 

Among the Russian ships that appear to have left the port in Syria is a Kilo-class submarine, thought to be one of the quieter and more advanced submarines in operation today.

While Russian ships are less advanced in some ways, they often field advanced anti-ship missiles that can pose a real threat to the US.

But Russia's movements may be a bluff, according to Ryan Bohl, a Middle East analyst at Stratfor, a geopolitical consulting firm.

"Neither the Russians or the Americans want World War III, they know how to avoid it and have very strong lines of communications," Bohl told Business Insider.

"It's one thing to shoot down a Tomahawk [cruise missile used by the US Navy], but another thing to shoot down a ship it came from," according to Bohl, who said the movement of Russia's navy was more likely a "way to try to raise the stakes for the Americans to pressure Trump to scale down whatever strike is coming."

Essentially, Russia may simply be trying to look tough by sailing out its navy.

"There's very little they can do from a conventional standpoint," Bohl said. "Once the [USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group] arrives, the US will be able to clean up the eastern Mediterranean in a conventional fight any day."

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