Big new Russian ship snoops off-shore

Coast guard patrols spotted and followed the course of Russian Navy spy ship Yuri Ivanov near Latvian waters in the Baltic Sea Tuesday night, the National Armed Forces (NBS) reported on their Twitter feed Wednesday.

So far this year the NBS has counted 32 incidents of Russian military units, sometimes several at a time, straying near enough to national territory to warrant scrambles and monitoring missions.

The Yuri Ivanov is reported as having been commissioned in 2004 and launched by the Severnaya Verf shipyard in St. Petersburg to be put into action by the Russian Navy in the fall of 2013. It is a large reconnaissance ship meant to provide communications and fleet management, and is rigged to conduct state-of-the-art electronic warfare. The floating into active fleet service of a second vessel of its type – christened the Ivan Khurs, is expected to be finished sometime this year.

On January 14 of this year a spokesman for shipyard told Russian news agency TASS it had fully signed over the Yuri Ivanov – the largest vessel of its class, to the Russian Navy.

A blog raving enthusiastically over the launch of the newfangled spy ship conjectured its naming was to honor the memory of top Russian security service GRU intelligence officer General Yuri Ivanov, whose 52-year old decomposed body was found washed up on the Turkish coast in 2010 after he had sustained a 'swimming accident' while relaxing at a beach in the Syrian port city of Latakia.

In 2014 the national defense services chalked up altogether 250 cases of Russian military air- or sea-craft of various types conducting maneuvers or transiting very close to Latvia’s borders. Fifty of these incidents involved Russia’s naval warships specifically. The air force planes have been consistently flying without their identifying transponders, rendering themselves effectively invisible to civilian air traffic.

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