Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Corvettes of Winter

Don't get me wrong, I love the Baltics - it's beautiful, the people are great - but, well, there are the winters...

As such, I don't know about you, but even for a Russian, there has to be a better place for a Black Sea ship to overwinter than that sad, little, abused, and threadbare corner of the former East Prussia;
“Your greetings and the warmth of your hearts to Kaliningrad!!” — On October 26, the DFR Lab revealed that two Russian Buyan-M class corvettes of the Black Sea Fleet, armed with Kalibr-NK long-range cruise missiles, had entered the Baltic Sea. The deployment was a surprise, because only three weeks earlier, the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) had announced that the ships were to be attached to its Mediterranean squadron.
Read the whole thing over at medium.com, they've done a great job with OSINT to geo-locate exactly where these two exceptional corvettes are located.
The Russian MoD has not officially confirmed the transfer of the two corvettes to the Baltic Fleet. Its latest official statement is the one from October 5 in which it announced their attachment to the Mediterranean squadron.
However, on October 26, Russian media outlet “Izvestiya” ran a report quoting an anonymous “official source from the Russian Ministry of Defense” which appeared to confirm the deployment.
Baltic or Med? Who knows. I do know Sailors though ... and I think they'd rather winter in Tartus or Sevastopol.

There are other issues with Russian plans for the enclave;
The article reported that the Baltic Fleet would soon be reinforced with a division of Buyan-M class missile corvettes, armed with Kalibr missiles. It went on:
According to Izvestiya’s information, the first two small missile ships — “Zelenyy Dol” and “Serpukhov” — are being transferred from the Black to the Baltic Sea, and will soon join the newly formed division. Three more missile ships will be constructed and sent to the Baltic Fleet by the end of 2020.
“The formation of a small missile ship division and brigade within the Baltic Fleet has already started,” an official source from the Russian Ministry of Defense told Izvestiya. “We are planning to finish the job in two to three years. Currently, the newly-formed divisions have already received their first missile complexes and ships.”
And no, I don't think this is part of any Russian dis-information campaign. Russian PAOs are just not that well organized in the Baltic right now. They do plan to build up the Baltic Fleet, and Kaliber capable surface combatants are no longer needed near Syria.

If you are a geography geek like me, enter 54.637778, 19.945833 in to GoogleEarth and play around the port of Baltiysk (nee Pillau) and the neat old Swedish star-fort ruins. Kind of sad the mis-use of the land you can see from the air over then entire enclave - but such is war and Soviet/Russia misuse of once productive land.

To get a better view of the issues, take some time to follow the Kaliningrad/Polish border. Though not a Bavarian landscape, the Polish side is full of small farms, functional villages, and a people trying to make the most economic good of the land. On the Kaliningrad side? Yikes. The Russian part of East Prussia is to the former East Prussia what the NYC of "I am Legend" is to NYC of today.

Oh, and that island at N54 36' 37.31" E19 56' 53.1" - I'd like to know its history. 

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