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Russia strengthens Mediterranean presence
September 6, 2013, 10:06 am


The Russian naval task force has currently been conducting rotation in the Mediterranean [AP]

Another Russian naval ship is on its way towards the Syrian coast, according to state news agency Interfax.

Landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov will carry “special cargo” aboard and head for a spot in the eastern Mediterranean, an Interfax report quoted military sources as saying.

The Russian naval task force has currently been conducting rotation in the Mediterranean.

Russia has strengthened its naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea for a possible evacuation of Russian nationals from Syria, the Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov said Thursday.

“Above all, given the presence there of amphibious landing ships, they are intended for a possible evacuation of Russian citizens,” said Ivanov.

Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov said earlier on Thursday that the country’s increased presence in the Mediterranean is a “legitimate, natural and predictable reaction to the situation developing” in the region.

“Our actions are in strict compliance with international law and the UN Charter,” he stressed, adding that the Mediterranean Sea is “quite close to Russia’s borders.”

Antonov said Russia’s naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea should not be interpreted as an indication that the country plans to take an active role in any regional conflict.

“Our warships are a guarantee of regional stability, an attempt to restrain other forces that are ready to launch military operations in the region,” said the minister.

However, on Wednesday, a high-ranking Defence Ministry source told RIA Novosti that a new group of ships from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet will join the country’s Mediterranean task force within days.

The Defense Ministry source confirmed media reports that the electronic intelligence ship Priazovye would be part of the new grouping.

A member of Russia’s General Staff also told the agency that the Slava class guided missile cruiser Moskva was heading from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, where it will take over from the Admiral Panteleyev destroyer on September 17.

Ria Novosti and Agencies

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