US, Russia, and China Increase Naval Presence Off Syria

Just as the world’s most powerful countries meet at the G20 in St. Petersburg, Russia, warships of the Russian Federation and China steam toward Syria. For the first time in several decades, the world is in a crisis akin to that which John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev faced off in over Cuba in 1962.

Update One: Twitter is virulent with tweets for #Syria and #SyriaCrisis. Media on the one hand proclaim American’s are for intervention, and on the other news agencies insist the US public is against any action by President Obama. The Syria situation is rapidly polarizing opinion around the world more so than any crisis in recent memory. EPR has decided to post important tweets below at bottom.

Update Two: France has sent one of their anti-air warfare frigates to stand off Syria according to France24. Already Italian ANSA news agency reported that a frigate and a torpedo destroyer boat departed from Italy’s southeastern coast on Wednesday.

With America’s president and the nation’s reputation on the line now, it seems certain the United States will not be able to back down. Many are wondering at this point, what mighty forces must be at play beneath the surface of this horrific and shifting situation.

Nimitz task force

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and the guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65) rerouted to assist off Syria – Courtesy Official U.S. Navy Page

With the US Congress set to vote on US intervention in Syria, Russia and China have their interests to protect as well. Sea lanes, arms shipments, oil, geostrategic position, and the balance of power in the world are focused now on Syria. Some experts are beginning to wonder if this situation is not beginning to spin out of control. Retired U.S. Admiral William Fallon, for one, has been quoted as saying:

“There are no good military options. If our intent is to send a strong signal of disapproval and perhaps damage (Assad’s) ability to use chemical weapons again, we probably can do that. But anything likely to be done will have no lasting effect on the Syrian situation.”

In the same article cites above, Jack Segal, who’s a longtime expert in the politics, military, and US National Security Council measures suggests a “no win” situation for America in what he considers a “fruitless” effort to alter the course of Syria’s future. As he puts it; “American aggression will become the new narrative associated with this civil war.” Meanwhile the US administration has not heeded even the will of majority. This Reuters report contends a full 56% of Americans are against any direct intervention in Syria, yet Democrats and Republicans in Washington persist in demanding these attacks.

US off Syria

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Aug. 31, 2013) – Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stout (DDG 55) participate in an underway replenishment-at-sea with USNS Leroy Grumman (TAO 195) as the guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) comes alongside. – Courtesy CNE CNA C6F

Now Russian warships including the SSV-201 intelligence ship Priazovye, as well as the landing ships Minsk and Novocherkassk, have passed through the so called Istabbul Straight and the Bosphorus. Moored at Limassol in Cyprus since their crossing in May, Russia authorities say the ships will be used to evacuate Russian citizens from Syria.

Added to these Russian navy deployements, a US Navy source has been quoted as saying the Russian Navy also deployed two additional missile destroyers and the flagship of their Black Sea Fleet the Moskva missile cruiser, to an already potent Mediterranean force. The Russian President has already said an attack by the US on Syria without UN sanction would be considered an act of aggression.

Russian Special Forces aboard the Moskva

Russian Special Forces aboard the Moskva – courtesy MATEUS_27:24&25

Finally, Internet communications being monitored by several news outlets tell of China sending ships through the Red Sea into the Bosphorus to “observe” Russian and US naval and military activities there. China reportedly already has several ships laying off the Syria coast.

The only solid confirmation however, is the armed amphibious landing vessel the 689-foot-long Jinggangshan (below), which can carry 1,000 soldiers (sources suggest a battalion of Chinese Marines). Where China is concerned, support for UN veto partner Russia is critical here, as are China’s own interests in the Middle East and Africa.

Reuters reported this morning that Russian sources content the new ship movements are simply not for the purposes of inflaming an already tense and confrontational situation there off Syria. But President Obama’s situation deployment of naval forces there, in proximity to Syria’s main ally, suggest otherwise. This is a classic case of saber rattling that could escalate.

China's amphibious troop ship Jinggangshan

China’s amphibious troop ship Jinggangshan


The video below from Russian Federation Vladimir Putin’s press office highlights the G20 start with Putin addressing the membership. While economic highlights are discussed in the open here, no doubt the shadow of armed conflict atop an already stressed world business and political landscape, does not bode well.






  1. John L says

    There is no clear and present danger to American interests or security in the Syrian civil war, The only possible effect that Syria could have that might involve the US would be a Syrian attack on Israel which will probably happen (or an Iranian one) in response to American military action.
    The proper response is through the UN. That’s why they were created.
    Obama should sit down and shut up on this one. Putin’s no Nikita K. and Obama’s no JFK.

    • allan baluyot says

      Good comment and point. Obama and some warmongers in congress wants to scapegoat Syria for their colossus failure domestically.

  2. saboma says

    Great write-up, Phil. I am unable to add anything to it although I do not support any of this. It doesn’t make any sense, not really. Furthermore, I can go on and on yet I’ll say nothing more than what’s all ready been said nor can I express my feelings any better than those who have expressed their feelings, maybe elsewhere or in another language. What I do know is that I am not alone so why aren’t our expressions being acted upon by our grand poobahs? Wait! Isn’t that a question of the ages past, present and future?

    *hug the peanut who is not so much of a peanut anymore*

    • Phil Butler says

      Hey Saboma, thanks very much for lending your voice here. As you suggest, the reasons for these interventions are both manifold, and obscure to normal people. Even after hours of reading and interaction on the matter of Syria yesterday and these last weeks, I myself still cannot grasp exactly what is motivating all this. I know the situation is dangerous for all of us, and that mighty forces are being leveled too. For what purposes?

      History only will tell us I fear.

      Peanut sends big hug back to you Saboma!!!!


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