Don't Be Fox News and Freak Out Over That Russian Frigate in the Eastern Med

I appreciate the need for ratings as much as the next guy, maybe even more as your clicks are my life’s blood, but sometimes crap just goes too far.

foxnews-headline

Dear Lord. Are we that bankrupt that we have to make stuff like this up?

These are the facts. It is one Russian frigate. This ship is part of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. It seems to have been ordered to the Med independent of the US attack. The ship began transit through the Bosporus and Dardanelles two hours AFTER we launched missiles at Syria. Ships are not like cars. You don’t just hop in it and drive away. It isn’t steaming “toward US destroyers,” the Russians are billing this as a show-the-flag mission to the Russian navy base in Tartus, Syria. Which it more likely than not is as it isn’t a Russian battlegroup.

Why it doesn’t matter:

The US 6th Fleet has four, count them, four, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in the eastern Med: USS Carney (DDG 64), USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), and USS Porter (DDG 78). In addition, there is a solid umbrella of land-based aircraft covering the area.

This is not a provocation or a potential naval clash. Compared to what the Eastern Med was during the Cold War when we had US and USSR surface combatants playing actual honest-to-gosh chicken, this is not worthy of notice.

But, if you are into the idea that Putin ran this scheme to test Trump, I’ll toss you this nugget:

Ship spotter Yörük Işık told USNI News the frigate was only in port for nine days before heading back to the Mediterranean and crossing the strait shortly after the U.S. strike. (FYI, Russian ships stay in port a lot because it’s cheaper than sailing and they don’t kill each other while liquored up and steering the things.)

You can, if you desire, postulate that the ship was scrambled to the site to be there in case the US decided to attack Syria — either as a provocation or to engage in intelligence gathering — and we simply acted inside their decision cycle.