A Russian battle group led by the heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser, Admiral Kuznetsov, with two supporting ships will head to the Syrian port of Tartus in early December.
The Kuznetsov (pictured above) is a combination aircraft carrier and missile frigate, and its armaments include:
"12 long-range surface-to-surface anti-ship Granit cruise missiles, a six-gun short-range surface-to-air missile system Kinzhal, eight close-in air defense Kashtan gun-missile systems and two UDAV-1 anti-submarine systems."
Russian military officials insist the mission is a longstanding military exercise and the timing has no connection to the current unrest in Syria.
Nevertheless, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, told reporters that a counterbalancing military force to NATO’s is very useful for the region, because“it will prevent the outbreak of an armed conflict,” according to RT.
The Admiral also reminded reporters that the Soviet Union had a special naval squadron for years to "deter" American and allied forces from aggression in the Mediterranean Sea. The base in Tartus is a relic of this Soviet need to equip and repair the Soviet Mediterranean force.
Currently, the base is mostly used to support vessels of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Tartus houses approximately 600 military and civilian Russian defense personnel.