Russia sending missile cruiser to Mediterranean

Russia sending missile cruiser to Mediterranean
Wed Sep 4, 2013 17:29:04

Russia is sending a missile cruiser to the east Mediterranean to take over the navy's operations in the region, as the United States prepares for a possible military strike on Syria, a report says.

The ship, Moskva, will take over operations from a naval unit in the region that Moscow says is needed to protect national interests. It will be joined by a destroyer from Russia's Baltic Fleet and a frigate from the Black Sea Fleet, state news agency Interfax quoted a military source as saying on Wednesday.

"The Cruiser Moskva is heading to the Gibraltar Strait. In approximately 10 days it will enter the east Mediterranean, where it will take over as the flagship of the naval task force," the unidentified source said.

President Barack Obama has won backing from key figures in the US Congress in his call for limited US strikes on Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians. Damascus, however, ruled out any involvement in the heinous act.

Moscow has been the Syrian government’s most powerful ally, protecting it from consecutive UN security resolutions aimed at pressuring it to end violence. Russia insists the conflict must be solved through political dialogue in which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must take part.

Nonetheless, President Vladimir Putin, in an interview released on Wednesday, did not rule out approving a military operation if clear evidence showed Damascus had carried out the attacks, but said any attack would be illegal without UN support.

Last week, the Russian Defense Ministry said new warships, including the Moskva, were being sent to the Mediterranean but described the movements as routine deployments.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Russia has no intention of getting dragged into any military conflict over Syria.

Earlier this week, Interfax reported that Russia was also sending a reconnaissance ship to the region but that it would operate separately from the naval unit.


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