Invasion Force or Diversion? Armada of Six Russian Amphibious Landing Ships Enter Mediterranean

Image of the Russian Warships Petr Velikiy. HMS St Albans was joined by three Royal Air Force Typhoon jets while they sailed next to the Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and the Nuclear powered guided missile cruiser Petr Velikiy.

There are now six Russian amphibious warfare ships in the Mediterranean Sea, adding to a growing Russian fleet there. The three latest landing ships left the Baltic Sea earlier this month. While the Russian Ministry of Defense has said they will take part in naval drills, the amphibious armada could be heading to the Black Sea to support a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Or they could be a diversion.

According to  The Warzone Wire, three landing ships “from the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet, the Project 775 Ropucha class amphibious warfare ships Olenegorskiy Gornyak and Georgiy Pobedonosets and the Project 11711 Ivan Gren class landing ship Pyotr Morgunov, were spotted entering the Mediterranean earlier today via the Strait of Gibraltar to join another three already on station in the area.”

The Drive describes the growing Russian amphibious force:

The other three Ropucha class ships from the Baltic Fleet, which had preceded the Northern Fleet flotilla on its passage through the English Channel, are reported to have already entered the Mediterranean, two days earlier, via the same route.

Others have tracked the route of the amphibious fleet.

The three landing ships now in the Mediterranean, and the three from the Baltic Fleet that are expected to join them, can carry  tanks and armored vehicles, as well as troops, and equipment, to land directly onto the beach.

But these six amphibious warfare vessels are only part of a larger Russian combat fleet being assembled. The Drive notes:

Previously, the Russian Ministry of Defense had announced that all six of these amphibious warfare vessels would take part in large-scale maneuvers planned in the Mediterranean. Other warships expected to participate are the Slava class cruiser VaryagUdaloy class destroyer Admiral Tributs, and the fleet oiler Boris Butoma, all from the Pacific Fleet.

Meanwhile, another Russian Navy vessel, the Vishnya class intelligence-gathering ship Vasiliy Tatishchev, entered the Mediterranean via the Strait of Gibraltar last week. Its destination is unclear, but it could be a potential participant in the upcoming Russian naval manuevers.

The Drive adds:

…should Russia launch an invasion of Ukraine, some or all of these would be expected to continue to the Black Sea from where they would likely take part in amphibious landings along the country’s southern coastlines, especially in the Sea of Azov.

However, their mission could also just be to serve as a diversion for the powerful NATO fleet that is now operating in the eastern Mediterranean. ADN

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank. - paulcrespo.substack.com - PAULCRESPO.COM

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[…] has sent its six older amphibious warships – previously reported by ADN to have deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean – to the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov […]


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