This past week, Russia hit targets near Raqqa, the Islamic State’s capital in Syria, with cruise missiles launched from an advanced stealth submarine in the Mediterranean Sea. Moscow previously fired missiles from warships in the Caspian Sea in October and November.
By using the military campaign in Syria as a testing ground for new weaponry and hardware, the Kremlin is alerting Western powers of Russia’s newly restored military prowess after decades of decay.
“The missiles launched from the submarine were more of a political weapon aimed at Washington, rather than a military one aimed at ISIS,” said Chris Harmer, a senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. “There is no tactical reason for Russia to fire a cruise missile. They are using these to show the world that they can.”
“It’s also about showing potential customers that Russian weapons can do impressive things,” said Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University.