VIA| The world’s largest submarine, the Dmitri Donskoy (TK-208), Nato-coded Typhoon, has set sail for the Mediterranean and is destined for the Syrian coast, debkafile reports exclusively from its military and intelligence sources. Aboard the sub are 20 Bulava (NATO-code SS-N-30) intercontinental ballistic missiles with an estimated up to 200 nuclear warheads. Each missile, with a reported range of 10,000km, carries 6-10 MIRV nuclear warheads.
The Russian sub set sail from its North Sea base, escorted by two anti-sub warfare ships. Their arrival at destination in 10 days time will top up the new Russian military deployment in Syria.
President Vladimir Putin’s introduction of a nuclear force opposite Syrian shores builds up what first looked like an operation to fortify Assad’s regime in Damascus into a military expedition capable of an air and sea confrontation with US forces in the Middle East.
US Secretary of State John Kerry suggested as much Saturday, when he expressed concern over reports of Russia’s “increasing military build-up in Syria” in a phone call to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The State Department reported: “The Secretary made clear that if such reports were accurate, these actions could further escalate the conflict, lead to greater loss of innocent life, increase refugee flows and risk confrontation with the anti-ISIL coalition operation in Syria.”
Kerry was referring to potential Russian interference with US-led coalition air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria.
debkafile’s sources in Washington and Moscow report that the dispatch of a nuclear sub to Syrian waters is taken as a strong message that the Kremlin will not let the US impede its military intervention in the Syrian conflict and will go to extreme lengths to keep the way open for the flow of Russian troops to the war-torn country.
This situation has gone a long way beyond Obama administration intentions when US-Russian talks were initially held for US forces posted in Turkey and Iraq, together with the Russian troops arriving in Syria, to launch a combined effort against the Islamic State. Those talks came to naught.
In its coming issue out Friday, DEBKA Weekly 678 will reveal for the first time how Putin intends to array the Russian forces he is consigning to Syria, their operational planning, their military coordination with Iran and, above all, how the new Russian intervention in Syria may impact US Middle East policy and Israel.