A diesel-electric Russian submarine with state-of-the-art cruise missiles approached the Mediterranean coast of Syria on Tuesday, the Russian Interfax news agency reported.
The Rostov-on-Don submarine of the Black Sea Fleet is reportedly armed with Russian Klub series missiles and antiaircraft artillery.
“Klub” missiles were reported to have been used recently by Russia’s Caspian Flotilla to attack Islamic State fighters in Syria.
Russian news site Izvestia reported that the warship Moskva, the most advanced vessel of the Black Sea Fleet, has also been stationed in the eastern Mediterranean in the aftermath of Turkey’s November 24 downing of a Russian fighter jet.
On Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu blasted as “provocation” images of a Russian serviceman armed with a rocket launcher as the Caesar Kunikov warship passed through Turkish waters.
Russia has been openly stepping up its involvement in Syria in recent months, especially since the October downing of a Russian passenger plane in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in a bomb attack claimed by IS. All 224 people on board were killed in the attack.
In a Friday evening address at the Saban Forum in Washington DC, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned of waning US influence in the Middle East, saying that Russia is replacing the vacuum left by US absence in the region.
“Russia is playing a more significant role than the United States,” Ya’alon said, adding, “We don’t like the fact that King Abdullah of Jordan is going to Moscow, the Egyptians are going to Moscow, the Saudis are going to Moscow.”
“The United States should play a more active role in our region,” Ya’alon said.
AFP and Rebecca Shimoni Stoil contributed to this report.