A Russian politician has proposed to buy back from China the Soviet aircraft carrier sold to it by Ukraine and name it after the founder of the Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky who passed away last year.
Sergey Karginov, the First Deputy Chairman of the Committee of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on Development of Far East and Arctic, made the appeal to Director of Russian Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Pacific Cooperation Department Alexei Ovchinnikov.
Launched in November 1988, the unfinished Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Varyag sailed into Ukraine with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1992 and the division of the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) assets between newly-independent states.
In 1998, it was bought by China which termed it as just a pile of scrap metal and promised to convert it into a floating casino.
However, Beijing refined the vessel into its first aircraft carrier – renaming it first as Shi Lan and then Liaoning after its northeastern province – putting it into commission in 2012 as the dispute with Japan over the Senkaku Islands aggravated.
The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), which earlier suggested that Russian airline Aeroflot name one of its planes after Zhirinovsky, is now campaigning to bring back the Soviet-built aircraft-carrying cruiser.
“After the collapse of the country, Ukraine preferred to sell it in fact for a few bottles of vodka, at the price of scrap metal.
Given the current situation, I propose to buy the ship from China, give it the name of the founder of the Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky and make it the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet,” Karginov was quoted as saying by the Russian state media on Friday.
As China continues to expand and intensify its military activities at sea and in the air, it was reported last week that the Liaoning Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is currently operating in the East China Sea.