Russia’s newest frigate, escorts now operating in Caribbean

Russia’s newest frigate, escorts now operating in Caribbean
RFS Admiral Gorshkov (FFG-417). Wikipedia: By Mil.ru, CC BY 4.0, Link

[Ed. – The frigate, RFS Admiral Gorshkov, is a Northern Fleet (Barents Sea) ship, but came through the Panama Canal from the Pacific as part of a round-the-world show-the-flag deployment.  This is actually a big deal: Admiral Gorshkov can be (and probably is) fitted with Russia’s Kalibr long-range cruise missile — used in Syria several times — in vertical launch tubes.  The ship-launched Kalibr hasn’t been in the Western hemisphere before (although submarines with similarly capable missiles have been deploying off the U.S. East coast for several years).  The frigate doesn’t have to get very close to pose a cruise missile threat to CONUS.  At least one stop in Cuba is expected, which will be more than close enough.]

The Admiral Gorshkov transited from the Eastern Pacific Ocean into the Caribbean via the Panama Canal on June 17, 2019. The Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet says that it expects the first-in-class Project 23120 multi-function logistics ship Elbrus, the medium ocean-going tanker Kama, and the heavy ocean-going tug Nikolay Chiker to all have crossed into the Caribbean by tomorrow, according to an official statement. There is no formal word yet on where the ships are headed. …

But the bigger question is whether or not Russia will send the frigate to Venezuela, where the Kremlin continues to support dictatorial President Nicolas Maduro, who has been in a protracted political standoff with opposition leader Juan Guaido since January 2019. …

[I]f Admiral Gorshkov sails into a Venezuelan port it is almost certain to draw a rebuke from the United States and could lead to a new surge in tensions in the region. … [The U.S.] notably responded very angrily to the Russian Air Force’s deployment of two Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers, along with various other supporting aircraft and personnel, to Venezuela in December 2018.

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