Russia deploys aircraft carrier and warships to Syria coast
Russia's flagship aircraft carrier is on its way to Syria, where Moscow's forces are leading a bombing campaign against the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo.
The Admiral Kuznetsov will be joined by Pyotry Veliky battlecruiser, the Vice-Admiral Kulakov destroyer and anti-submarine ships, the defence ministry said.
The move comes as Russia holds talks on Syria with other international powers, including rival the US.
Moscow has already said it does not expect any positive results from the meeting, despite calling for the conference in Lausanne.
The deployment of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier comes weeks after Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the ship would be sent to the eastern Mediterranean to boost the country's naval forces in the area.
The fleet's aim is to "respond to new types of modern threats like piracy and international terrorism", the ministry said.
Russia began its involvement in the Syria war in September 2015, and has been at the forefront of a bombing campaign of rebel areas, and been critical to the Damascus regime's recent successes.
This is the first time that the Soviet-era Kuznetsov - Russia's only aircraft carrier part of its Northern fleet based in Murmansk - will join the Russian deployment after undergoing a refurbishment.
Russia has control of Tartous base on the Syrian coast, along with an airbase in Latakia.
Last week, Moscow approved a deal with Damascus to deploy its forces in the country indefinitely, increasing Russian presence in the region.
Moscow has flown long-range bombing raids from bases in Russia and fired cruise missiles from ships in the Caspian Sea and a submarine in the Mediterranean.