Even though President Trump refused to say what his next move on Syria would be, the U.S. military strike on the al-Shayrat airbase on Friday was certainly a #Show Of Force. In a similar show of force, it was reported that #Russia was sending a frigate armed with cruise missiles to the Mediterranean as a response against the #United States. Russian state media has said that the Admiral Grigorovich was expected to be there for at least a month depending on developments in the region.
One report by CNN said that this was the largest deployment from Russia in 20-years.
Other reports say that this is Russia's most advanced frigate with state-of-the-art weaponry and is heading towards the two destroyers that launched 59 tomahawk missiles towards the airbase, the USS Ross and the USS Porter. The cruise missile attack reportedly destroyed 20 planes and cratered the airbase. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that six people were killed during the attack. The attack was okayed by the Trump administration after intelligence showed that a plane carrying chemical weapons took off from that airbase before it bombed and kill 80 civilians with them.
Russia on the defensive
The differences with the reporting on the chemical attack on Tuesday between western and Russian media is that Russian state media says that the Syrian government did not conduct the strikes and instead blamed the rebels on the ground, claiming that rebels were storing chemical weapons in a building which they say must have been hit by airstrikes. This is similar to the response Russian's had last year under the previous administration after a Red Crescent humanitarian convoy was hit by a Russian air strike, denying it, saying that rebels must have hit it or that the convoy had exploded by itself..
Since Russia's involvement in the Syrian Civil War, they have been entirely against removing President Assad and have acted as the intermediary between the United States and the Syrian government, even promising to make sure that Assad got rid of all of their chemical weapons back in 2013 which no longer appeared to be the case after Tuesday's latest chemical strike. During the period of transition between the Obama and Trump administrations, the Russians have only increased their presence in Syria, their attacks on Aleppo, and have also been accused of intentionally killing civilians. Following Friday's strike on the Syrian airbase, Russian president Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. of committing an act of aggression and has reportedly suspended the agreement that would prevent the collision of their planes with those of the United States over Syria.
Other Russian vessel threats
According to various reports, the Admiral Grigorovich is armed with the latest and deadliest Kalibr missiles. Russian state media reported that the Grigorovich launched cruise missiles at ISIS targets in Syria from the Mediterranean in November of last year.
Blasting News reported last year that Russia was sending warships to the Mediterranean through the English Channel as a show of force to the international community. The article states that the ships could have gone through another and even faster route to their destination but that they were clearly making a statement by going through the English Channel.
In February and then again in March, various media outlets reported the sighting of Russian spy ship the Viktor Leonov, first seen off the coast of Connecticut and then twice in March off the coast of Georgia. The spy ship is said to have high-tech equipment that intercepts communication signals. The reasons for the view that it was a sign of aggression is because it was apparently one of the few times it ventured so far North. It was also reported in February that the same USS Porter involved in the attack on the Syrian airbase, was buzzed near the Black Sea by an armed Su-24 which was said to be conducting a mock attack against the U.S. military.
Last October, Russia also rejected the accusation by the UN Security Council against Syria – just as they did last week – that Assad had used chemical weapons on their own people. Blasting News also covered the event which described how the Russians rejected a report from an investigation on the use of chemical attacks, preventing a process from moving forward to eventually hold the Syrian government accountable. Currently, it's also suggested that Russia might have had something to do with the chemical attack as well which is apparently also being investigated.