Rus­sian with­drawal from Syria

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Aviation Defence & News -

China’s air­craft car­rier, the 60,000-ton Liaon­ing, the retro­fit­ted Soviet-era Ad­mi­ral Kuznetsov- class mul­ti­role air­craft car­rier, con­ducted ex­er­cises in the South China Sea early Jan­uary 2017. Ac­cord­ing to the Chi­nese De­fence Min­istry, “A naval for­ma­tion con­sist­ing of air­craft car­rier Liaon­ing con­ducted take-off and land­ing drills in the South China Sea. The for­ma­tion, which is on a ‘cross-sea area’ train­ing ex­er­cise, in­volved J-15 fight­ers as well as sev­eral ship-borne he­li­copters.” The Liaon­ing can em­bark an air wing of 24 Shenyang J-15 mul­ti­role fighter jets, and up to ten ro­tary wing air­craft in­clud­ing Chang­she Z-18, Ka-31, and Harbin Z-9 he­li­copters.

Fur­ther, the drill “pro­vided im­por­tant ex­pe­ri­ence in the buildup of com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity of the air­craft car­rier for­ma­tion.” A Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesper­son cor­rob­o­rated the Liaon­ing’s ac­tiv­i­ties stat­ing that “the car­rier and ac­com­pa­ny­ing ships are test­ing weapons and equip­ment and run­ning ex­er­cises in the rel­e­vant wa­ters of the South China Sea.”

The Rus­sian gov­ern­ment is re­port­edly “scal­ing back its mil­i­tary pres­ence in Syria”, start­ing with with­drawal of its war­ships from the eastern Mediter­ranean in­clud­ing the air­craft car­rier Ad­mi­ral Kuznetsov from the wa­ters off the coast of Syria.

Ear­lier in Oc­to­ber 2016, Rus­sia’s par­lia­ment had rat­i­fied the de­ci­sion to in­def­i­nitely main­tain a mil­i­tary de­ploy­ment in Syria aimed at what it said was “peace and sta­bil­ity in the re­gion”. On 23 De­cem­ber, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin or­dered the ex­pan­sion of Rus­sia’s naval fa­cil­ity in Tar­tus. It is not known if this sub­se­quent de­ci­sion to scale Rus­sian op­er­a­tions in Syria is per­ma­nent or is a tac­ti­cal move.

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