Against the backdrop of "Putin's ultimatum" and the obvious preparations for a war between Russia and Ukraine, the likelihood of our direct clash with the Americans has significantly increased. However, most likely, this may not happen in the Crimea or Kaliningrad, as is commonly believed, but in the Eastern Mediterranean. In any case, all the latest actions of Washington and Moscow speak of this. What are the real possibilities of the RF Ministry of Defense in such a remote theater of operations?
First of all, it is necessary to try to imagine what could be a real and sufficiently weighty reason for a direct armed clash between the two militarily strongest countries.
The general background for it is the negotiations on the further configuration of the world security system, the question of the need for which was finally raised point-blank by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his ultimatum. At the same time, there is a great temptation to determine the results of the “proxy” war on the territory of a third country, Ukraine. The United States will not directly participate in this, but there is a non-zero chance that they may need to intervene if the Russian “proxies” in the form of the LDNR militia develop too much success and call into question Washington’s control over Kiev. This is where the "hegemon" may need to enter the game as a "moderator", inflicting missile and air strikes on the victorious forces of the "people's republics" and the Russian military experts supporting them on vacation. But the steppes of Ukraine are not your Syrian Hisham, and you won’t be able to hide this, because the Kremlin will have to answer so as not to lose face.
The question is where and how this can happen so that the armed conflict between the two leading nuclear powers remains local and does not turn into a global one. The best place for this is the remote theater of operations, namely, the Eastern Mediterranean.
US Sixth Fleet
The Sixth Fleet of the US Navy is responsible for the Mediterranean Sea at the "hegemon". Its peculiarity is that it does not have a permanent composition, and its operational groups increase or decrease as needed. The flagship is the command ship Mount Whitney, a frequent intruder in the Black Sea.
So, in connection with the apparent build-up of the Russian grouping near the Ukrainian borders, the head of the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin, at the end of December 2021, decided to leave the aircraft carrier Harry Truman in the Mediterranean Sea. The AUG, including the Truman, includes five ships carrying guided missile weapons. An American carrier strike force is currently stationed in the Ionian Sea between Italy and Greece. In addition, a few days ago it became known that the nuclear submarine of the US Navy "Georgia" entered the Mediterranean Sea. This is an Ohio-class nuclear submarine converted from a strategic SSBN with 24 Trident-2 ICBMs into a carrier of Tomahawk cruise missiles, of which there can be up to 154 pieces on board.
What can American ships and submarines do from the Mediterranean? A lot of. From there, "Tomahawks" can strike, for example, at the positions of the militia, which has launched a counteroffensive on Ukrainian territory. Carrier-based fighters and attack aircraft from Harry Truman can be relocated to airfields in Romania or in the same Square and launch air strikes from there. At the same time, obviously, the risk of excesses increases sharply, as a result of which Russian military personnel may also die, which will somehow have to be responded to. But how?
The answer of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
What is on the mind of the Russian General Staff, we do not know, but let's put together everything that is known at the moment.
At first, at the end of 2021, the media reported that one of several terribly scarce AWACS A-50 aircraft was deployed to Syria. They are essential for conducting reconnaissance and issuing operational data for target designation of our anti-aircraft, cruise and anti-ship missiles.
Secondly, a combined detachment of 6 large landing ships of the Baltic and Northern fleets of the Russian Federation is currently moving from the Baltic and the Barents Sea to the Mediterranean. Previously we have guessed over what may be in the holds of large landing ships sitting low in the water. We named Syria as one of the most realistic destinations. We will not be surprised if it turns out that the ships will bring to the SAR additional Bastion coastal anti-ship systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, as well as the Iskander-M OTRK to enhance the combat stability and strike capabilities of the Russian military group in front of a strong enemy. After the BDK can proceed further to the Black Sea to be ready to take on board the marines.
Thirdly, attention is drawn to the long-range transition carried out by the flagship of the Pacific Fleet of the Russian Federation, the Varyag missile cruiser and the accompanying BOD Admiral Tributs to the Mediterranean Sea. First, Russian ships took part in the Sea Security Belt naval exercises jointly with the fleets of China and Iran, held in the Gulf of Oman. From there, the cruiser and BOD moved to the Mediterranean Sea.
The guards missile cruiser "Varyag" is objectively one of the most powerful surface ships in the Russian Navy, right after both "Orlans". Project 1164 "Atlant" from the very beginning was positioned as a "killer of aircraft carriers", the next one. But, unlike the hypersonic weapons that have not yet been brought to mind, the Varyag has every right to do so thanks to the Vulkan anti-ship missiles.
The P-1000 is a further development of the P-500 "Basalt". It is a powerful anti-ship missile with a range of 700 to 1000 kilometers. Most of the distance it flies at high altitude, and then drops to ultra-low altitudes, hiding from radar. The warhead can be conventional or nuclear. There are 16 such missiles on board the Varyag. The cruiser itself, still Soviet-built, completed modernization in 2020 and, during the Ocean Shield-2020 exercises, successfully hit a target with a Vulcan at a distance of 450 kilometers. The Atlanta anti-aircraft armament is represented by the sea-based S-300F Fort air defense system.
Provided that base aviation is covered from the Khmeimim base, the Varyag cruiser can pose a very real threat even to the AUG headed by Harry Truman, since the Mediterranean Sea is just a "puddle", albeit larger than the Black Sea . The Americans will no longer have the opportunity to use carrier-based aviation as a “far hand”, being at a safe distance from the ships of the Russian Navy. BOD "Admiral Tributs" will strengthen the potential of our Mediterranean squadron to detect "Georgia" and other submarines.