caspian sea missile
He he ... Russia is now really showing off :-)
Four Russian Navy warships have fired a total of 26 missiles at the position of the terrorist group Islamic State in Syria, Russia's Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced. The missiles were fired from the Caspian Sea.

"Four missile ships launched 26 cruise missiles at 11 targets. According to objective control data, all the targets were destroyed. No civilian objects sustained damage," Shoigu said.

The missiles flew some 1,500 km before reaching their targets, probing their efficiency.
"And a happy birthday to you dear Vladimir Vladimirovich," Shoigu added.

These Russian Klub (3M-14 KalibrN) cruise missile, with some interesting capabilities (vid), crossed Iranian and Iraqi airspace (vid) with the consent of those countries. There is a video of the launches and pictures of the left-overs of a night of "Russian Klub'bing" in Raqqa governate.

These launches have several aims:
  • destroy some Islamic State assets in Syria
  • provide that Russia, while giving intense air support (vid, 22 bombs in 5 min) to the Syrian army in its attack in Hama, is fully committed to the larger aim of destroying the Islamic State
  • demonstrate that Russia can and will engage in the fight from afar should its forces in Syria be attacked. (The earlier "offer" to the U.S. to join the fight against ISIS with Tu-22M(3) long range strikers of even Tu-160 strategic bombers made a similar point.)
  • challenge the U.S. to take up the war against the Islamic State in a serious matter.

Comment: Fort Russ points out some other ramifications of the use of the Kalibr system for the West's perception of Russia:
[Russia], too, can strike, massively from a distance, accurately and most importantly ... without permission.

This is one side of the coin. But there is another one and it is much more important. Launcher of the missile "Caliber" also comes in this package:

Kalibr launcher in a shipping container
Until today, the officially declared range of the missile was 300 km, although the layout and appearance showed that it was not the limit. Today it was announced and DEMONSTRATED that the flight range of the missiles is 2600 km.

... Today was a demonstration, a confirmation of the real possibilities. In reality, and not in theory. ...

And another question arises today on the agenda. Russia has a lot of weapons systems with a claimed range of 300-500 km. ...

Today the world has changed. Another country, besides the U.S., has the "official" claim for the role of geopolitical power center. It's RUSSIA. And with this, the U.S. will either have to agree or disagree...

The U.S. command has bragged about having flown such and such thousands of sorties in its operation Inherent Resolve against the Islamic State. What it did not brag about was that only 20% of those sorties included a weapon release and that many of these releases were only against minor targets. Destroying an "ISIS excavator" with a guided weapon is not war fighting but very expensive pinpricking. Others also noted the differences:
In Tel Aviv, Israeli military analysts have noted that the first Russian airstrikes in Syria seem much more aggressive than those of the U.S.-led coalition.
The Russian forces have now made sure that they have all the assets in or around Syria that are needed Despite a lot of noise from U.S. politicians, any U.S. controlled "no-fly zone" is now completely out of question. The Russians though could create such a zone in Syria in no time. Already U.S. reconnaissance drones over Syria get intercepted. The announced additional U.S. weapon deliveries to some Kurds and the newly formed Syrian Arab Coalition, which is just another collection of unreliable looters and thieves, will do nothing to free Raqqa or have any other major impact. The Kurds will not fight outside of their territories and the thieves will just sell their weapons, travel to Germany and become "refugees".

The other "relative moderate" rebels the U.S. armed have either turned over their weapons to Al-Qaeda or joined it. The public now learns that up to 80% of the weapons the U.S. delivered to Syria have ended up in the hand of Jihadis. Relaunching such programs again and again will not change that pattern and can no longer be publicly justified.

The U.S. and NATO also make loud noise when two Russians planes violate Turkish airspace (to test the Turkish radars and reaction times :-). But 11 nations in the U.S. coalition regularly violate Syrian airspace to pinprick ISIS and I have yet to see any "western" complaining about that. There will now be more talks between Russia and Turkey, Israel and the U.S. about avoiding air incidents. The Russians will likely simply say "just stay away."

The Russians are offering the U.S. a wider alliance than just some airspace deconfliction. But the U.S. so far rejected that. An alliance with Russia against the Islamic State does not fit its plans of splitting Iraq and Syria into many smaller U.S. dependent entities. The Iraqis, like the Syrians, have noted that and seek a larger role for Russia. The long planned for 4+1 coalition of Russia, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Hizbollah now leads the fight against the Islamic State.

The U.S. lost the game. It should take up the Russian offer or leave the table.