Moscow is outfitting its Baltic Fleet with even more advanced military hardware

SU 30SM russiaWikimedia CommonsA Russian Su-30SM fighter jet.

Russia is sending it’s Baltic Fleet a new missile ship and and more advanced fighter-bomber jets by the end of the year, Newsweek reported.

The fleet will receive a missile corvette ship and more Su-30SM jets, Vice Admiral Alexander Nosatov told Ministry of Defence newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda on Tuesday.

The Su-30M jet is considered to be one of the most advanced versions of the Russian “Flanker” jets, according to IHS Jane’s 360. The fleet first received the Su-30SM in December 2016.

“The Baltic fleet is actively building and developing,” Nosatov
told the Russian paper, adding that it has already received an Alexandrit-class minesweeper, which is basically a ship that sweeps for mines in the ocean.

The fleet currently has “three cutting-edge diesel submarines, one destroyer, six patrol ships, six fast attack guided missile craft, six anti-submarine warfare corvettes, 12 missile boats, four large amphibious assault ships, two small amphibious assault ships, six coastal minesweepers and nine inshore minesweepers,” Alexander Khrolenko, a Russian defence analyst, recently wrote in Sputnik.

Based in and around Kaliningrad, where Russia’s military has been building up its presence since the Kremlin annexed Crimea in 2014, the Baltic Fleet has routinely been at the forefront of hostilities with the west. It’s also one of Moscow’s most historic, dating back to 1703 and the reign of Peter the Great.

In November 2016, NATO expressed concerns that Russia was turning the Baltic enclave into a “fortress” that could paralyse allied operations or defensive moves in the region. Before that, Russia deployed S-400 and Iskander ground-based air defence systems between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic coast.

Earlier this week, Lithuania’s Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis accused Russia and Belarus of simulating an attack on the Baltic states and NATO. Moscow said it was merely a defensive drill.

Late last month, the US deployed F-35s to Bulgaria and Estonia to bolster Europe’s defences.

“[The deployment] shows we are serious about territorial integrity and will defend our interests with the most advanced capabilities our nation has to offer,” Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the commander of U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, said at the time.

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