Russia is once again drawing the attention of NATO militaries in northern Europe and Scandinavia, but this time, it's not a stray flight of MiG-29 fighters or Tu-95 Bear bombers infringing on another country's sovereign airspace or flying about with its transponders witched off. No, this time, there's an entire carrier battle group involved.
Russia's sole carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, and a flotilla of escorts are transiting the Norwegian Sea, north of the United Kingdom and between Norway and Iceland. That's drawn the attention of the British Royal Navy, which dispatched the frigate HMS Richmond and destroyer HMS Duncan to shadow the fleet. According to Military.com, Norway and the Netherlands are monitoring the situation, too.
But while the Kuznetsov's fleet is worrying, the ship itself really isn't. She's notoriously unreliable. According to a War is Boring article from 2013, bad steam turbines demand a fleet of ocean-going tugboats escort the Kuznetsov everywhere, just in case she breaks down. And if she somehow manages to get on station, the lack of a steam-powered catapult means the Sukhoi fighter jets that launch off the ship's bow ramp must be very light to achieve flight.
Reliability aside, the ultimate goal here may not be anything more than power projection. According to a Business Insider story from last month, Russia will begin using its carrier to imitate the effect of the US Navy's carrier battle groups. Military.com suggested something similar, citing Peter Roberts, a senior research fellow for sea power and maritime studies at the Royal United Services Institute, who said "[The Kuznetsov deployment is] a clear and military signal that Russia is back on the international stage."