Is Russia's Navy Shirtfronting Australia Ahead Of The G20?

The Russian missile cruiser Varyag during a visit to China. Photo: Guang Niu/Getty Images

The pride of Russia’s Pacific fleet, the guided missile cruiser Varyag, is part of a convoy steaming towards Australia ahead of the G20 Summit, which Russian president Vladimir Putin will attend this weekend.

Australian Defence Force (ADF) officials said on Wednesday night that they were monitoring the four-ship convoy as it passed through international waters to Australia’s north.

It’s believed a P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft and the Anzac-class frigate have been monitoring the Russian movements, with ADF officials stressing in a statement that the convoy actions were “entirely consistent with provisions under international law for military vessels”.

Accompanying the cruiser south is the destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov, a rescue tug and supply tanker

The ADF emphasised that the deployment had precedent, with Russian naval vessels appearing off the coast ahead of the 2009 APEC summit in Singapore.

The military movements come as Australian PM Tony Abbott met with Putin in Beijing yesterday and raised the downing of MH17 and compensation.

The Pacific fleet reportedly left Vladivostok three weeks ago and the Lowy Institute’s military fellow, James Brown, said the ships were primarily in the region for the Indonesian Defence Expo.

He added that concerns about the Russian Navy in Australia are not new, with Sydney’s fledgling colony building Fort Denison nearly 160 years ago during concerns about the Crimean War.

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