Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov (originally named Riga, renamed Leonid Brezhnev then Tbilisi) is an aircraft carrier (heavy aircraft carrying cruiser (TAVKR) in Russian classification) serving as the flagship of the Russian Navy. She was originally commissioned in the Soviet Navy, and was intended to be the lead ship of her class, but the only other ship of her class, Varyag, has never been commissioned and was sold to by Ukraine under the condition she would never be refitted for combat.
While designated an aircraft carrier by the West, the design of the Admiral Kuznetsov class implies a mission different from that of aircraft carriers of either the United States Navy or those of the Royal Navy. Rhe Kuznetsov is intended to support and defend strategic missile-carrying submarines, surface ships, and maritime missile-carrying aircraft of the Russian fleet.
Admiral Flota Sovetskovo Soyuza Kuznetsov, constructed at Nikolayev South Shipyard in Nikolayev, was launched in 1985, and became fully operational in 1995. An official ceremony marking the start of construction took place on September 1, 1982 though she was laid down in 1983. The vessel was first named Riga, but in November 1982 the name was changed to Leonid Brezhnev, in August 1987 to Tbilisi, and finally on October 4, 1990 to Admiral Flota Sovetskovo Soyuza Kuznetsov, referred to in short as Admiral Kuznetsov. In November 1989 she undertook her first aircraft operation trials. In December 1991, she sailed from the Black Sea to join the Northern Fleet. Only from 1993 on did she receive aircraft.