The Admiral Kuznetsov photographed off Andøya on Monday. Photo: Norwegian Armed Forces
A giant Russian aircraft carrier, a nuclear-powered battleship, and six other vessels passed the Norwegian island of Andøya on Monday on the way to Syria.
The Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and the battleship Pyotr Velikiy were photographed by Norway's Lockheed P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft.
According to the Norway's VG newspaper, the mobilisation is “the biggest demonstration of Russian military power in the Norwegian Sea for several years”.
“For us in Norway, this is not a threat. But it is a reminder of a larger picture that we must take seriously, says General Morten Haga Lund, the head of the Norwegian Intelligence Service, told VG
However, the size of the military reinforcements Russia is sending to Syria will raise questions over the sincerity of new peace talks Russia engaged in in Switzerland on Saturday.
The operation will the first combat engagement for a Russian or Soviet aircraft carrier.
Admiral Kuznetsov was launched in 1985 before the disintegration of the Soviet Union, but only became fully operational in 1995.
In 2000, it was involved in the attempt to rescue and salvage the Kursk submarine.
The aircraft carrier can carry 18-32 fixed wing aircraft, including the new Mig-29 Fulcrum, which is a specialised air-ground fighter, and 17-24 helicopters.
“They practiced on air-to-ground operations before they left their home areas, and it is reported through open sources that they will practice along the way,” Haga Lund said. “From the Norwegian side, we can only hope that they do not start fly-overs in the North Sea as they did in 2008, when there was chaos and we had to close all helicopter traffic.”