Three Russian amphibious ships left the Baltic Sea into the Atlantic Ocean with unknown destinations, prompting the US and its allies to deploy surveillance forces.
US monitors Russian landing ship suspected of approaching Ukraine
Three Russian Project 775 Ropucha landing ships , Korolev, Minsk and Kaliningrad, left the Baltic Sea yesterday and entered the Kattegat Strait, west of Sweden, an area considered the gateway to the Atlantic Ocean. The group of ships left the port of Baltyysk in the Russian territory of Kaliningrad two days earlier.
Civilian aviation tracking data shows that a US Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft was maneuvering off the coast of Denmark, near the route the Russian amphibious ships passed. An early warning aircraft S100 Argus of the Swedish Air Force was also operating in the area at the same time.
The Russian Defense Ministry has not commented on the information.
Russian naval ships often go to and from the Kaliningrad territory, but Swedish officials emphasize the current level of activity of Russian warships is unusually high. The move comes as the Russian military is said to have recently sent more tactical assets to the western region near Ukraine, including Iskander ballistic missiles, attack helicopters and transport.
Each project Ropucha amphibious ship can carry 10 main battle tanks and 340 soldiers, or a mixed mechanized battalion consisting of tanks, artillery, trucks and more than 300 soldiers, or 550 tons of cargo. It is not clear if the three ships leaving the Baltic Sea were carrying any cargo or equipment.
Some experts believe that the Russian ships may be heading to the Black Sea, an area of tension after a series of encounters between Moscow and NATO forces since last year.
“If Russia attacks Ukraine from a south direction, its Black Sea Fleet will certainly carry out amphibious operations in the Sea of Azov. The arrival of large amphibious ships like the Ropucha class can significantly add to the resources. power of this fleet,” commented military expert Thomas Newdick.
Tensions between Russia and the West recently escalated after the US and NATO accused Russia of sending about 70,000-100,000 troops close to the border with Ukraine, expressing concern that the country could launch an all-out war. Russia denies the allegations and declares them “baseless”, insisting all military moves on its western border are purely for defensive purposes.
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