A group of Russian navy warships from the country’s Black Sea Fleet will soon begin a mission in the Atlantic Ocean, a military official announced Tuesday. The vessels will be led by the missile cruiser Moskva, the lead ship of the Project 1164 Atlant class of guided missile cruisers in the Russian navy.
In addition to the Moskva, the group of Russian naval vessels will also include the escort ship The Pytlivy and salvage tug The Shakhtyor, Captain Vyacheslav Trukhachev, a spokesman for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, told TASS news agency, adding that the three ships are currently replenishing water and fuel reserves near Spain’s Ceuta.
“In the coming days, a detachment of ships under the flag of Deputy Black Sea Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Valery Kulikov will proceed past the Strait of Gibraltar and will begin to fulfill its objectives in the waters of the Atlantic ocean,” the Russian Defense Ministry said, in a statement on its website.
The Moskva, a guided missile cruiser, last visited the Atlantic in 2013, one year before Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, a region where the Russian Black Sea Fleet is based, the Moscow Times reported.
Tuesday’s announcement came nearly a month after the Russian Defense Ministry expressed concerns over a U.S.-led NATO missile defense drill in the Atlantic. The NATO exercise, which is titled At Sea Demonstration-2015, has been planned for this fall, and will involve Norway, the U.K., Italy, Canada, the Netherlands and France.
“The drills will be conducted in the north-eastern part of the Atlantic and this can signal only that there are plans to practice intercepting Russian ballistic missiles. Such drills cannot but concern us,” Anatoly Antonov, Russia's deputy minister of defense, told TASS in May.