September 4, 2013 By Zachary Keck - http://thediplomat.com
Russia’s only aircraft carrier will visit Tartus’s small naval base in Syria later this year, BBC Monitoring reported citing a newspaper published by the Russian government.
“At the end of the year, most likely in early December, the Project 11435 heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser the Admiral Kuznetsov will set off on a long-distance sea voyage during which it will call at the Russian Federation Navy's logistical support centre located in the Syrian city of Tartus,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement, BBC Monitoring reported on Saturday, citing a Russian-language report in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, a newspaper run by the Russian government.
The article goes on to quote a Defense Ministry staffer as saying that the route of the vessel’s “long-distance sea voyage” was already set and it was therefore unlikely to be affected by the civil war in Syria. The Admiral Kuznetsov’s stopover in Tartus is “in no way connected” to the Syrian civil war Rossiyskaya Gazeta paraphrased the staffer as saying, according to BBC Monitoring.
The Admiral Kuznetsov is Russia’s only operational aircraft carrier. The article clarifies that Russia refers to the ship as an aircraft-carrying cruiser because “under international treaties aircraft carriers are banned from passing through the Bosporus and Dardanelles…. But this ban does not extend to aircraft-carrying cruisers.”
According to the article, the carrier can hold 50 airplanes and helicopters and comes equipped with “Granit antiship missiles, Kortik and Klinok surface-to-air missiles, and Udav antisubmarine warfare systems.” The article also reports that the Admiral Kuznetsov is 14,000 square meters and carries a crew of nearly 2,200 people including flight and technical personnel.