Varyag was to be a Kuznetsov-class multirole aircraft carrier. She was known as Riga when her keel was laid down at Nikolayev South (formerly Shipyard 444) in Nikolayev 6 December 1985, and she was launched 4 December 1988, but she was renamed Varyag (Varangian) in late 1990, after a famous Russian cruiser.
Construction stopped by 1992 with the ship structurally complete but without electronics. Ownership was transferred to Ukraine as the Soviet Union broke up and the ship was laid up unmaintained, then stripped. In early 1998, she lacked engines, a rudder, and much of her operating systems. She was put up for auction.
Currently the ship is being examined and repaired by China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) after purchasing it at auction. It was widely reported that the ship would become a casino in the Chinese SAR of Macau. This has been proven incorrect as the ship is in a PLAN drydock in Dalian. It has been painted PLAN grey. Many analysts believe that the ship will be used for training as China builds an indigenous aircraft carrier with greater capability.