Yesterday afternoon, the frigate Admiral Gorshkov (454) and the tanker Kama entered the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.
After about four months of travel (the two units left the Russian port of Murmansk at the beginning of January) and several stops (notably in South Africa to participate in an exercise with the South African and Chinese navies, and in Iran), the arrival of the pair of ships in Tartus, Syria, is expected today.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Moscow’s naval presence in the Mediterranean has gradually decreased. Most of the major surface units have returned home and have not been replaced (or have been replaced by units of smaller size and military capabilities). Prior to the entry of the Admiral Gorshkov, the consistency of the Russian navy in the Mediterranean was as follows:
The entry of the Russian frigate would not by itself be a particularly destabilizing element of the situation, if it were not for the fact that the ship is armed with hypersonic missiles.
Recently, Russia has developed hypersonic missiles, which have become a topic of concern for the global community. Hypersonic missiles are the ones that travel at a speed of more than five times the speed of sound, making them incredibly difficult to intercept.
Some of the Russian hypersonic missiles include the Kinzhal missile, which is launched from a fighter jet, and the Zircon missile, which is a submarine-launched missile. The Zircon missile has a range of over 1,000 miles and can travel at a speed of Mach 8. Additionally, the missile can maneuver mid-flight, making it difficult to intercept.
Russia has been mounting these missiles on its navy vessels, including submarines in particular. They consider this as a major advantage in their defense strategy as the hypersonic missiles can reach the target quickly, making them difficult to be detected by the enemy defense systems.
The Admiral Gorshkov tested (simulated) the launch of missiles in the North Atlantic in January, and it is very likely to conduct similar activities in the Mediterranean. In the coming weeks (but perhaps even sooner), we will certainly witness the frigate’s first operational mission in the Mediterranean.
It will be interesting to see where she operates and what the countermeasures of NATO navies will be.