Russia starts major naval drills in Mediterranean Sea amid Syria crisis

Russian Black fleet ships take part in a Russian military Navy Day parade near an important navy base in the Ukrainian town of Sevastopol, on July 31, 2011.

 

Russia has launched its largest naval exercises in decades in the Mediterranean and Black Seas near the territorial waters of Syria amid the ongoing crisis in the Arab country.

The drills “are held in line with the Russian Armed Forces’ 2013 combat training plan and focus on interoperability of task forces from several fleets while on a mission in a far-off maritime zone,” said an official statement by Russia’s Defense Ministry on Saturday.

The maneuvers will continue until January 29 and comprise more than 60 drills, including anti-submarine warfare missions, missile and artillery firing practices.

Russia’s Black Sea, Northern and Baltic fleets, strategic bombers, tactical aircraft, air defense units, paratroopers and naval infantry will take part in the naval exercises.

The task forces have four large landing ships and a variety of auxiliary vessels in their composition which enable the Russian forces to carry out simulated beach landing and convoy escort missions.  Continue reading

Russia not to end military presence in Syria: army chief

Russia’s Chief of Staff General Nikolai Makarov

Russia has no intention to end its military presence in Syria despite the ongoing violence in the Arab nation, the Head of Russian army says

Chief of Staff General Nikolai Makarov on Tuesday rejected the reports that Moscow was in the process of evacuating its naval base in Syria and pulling out its high ranking military personnel.

“Why are you so worried about Syria?” Makarov said. “All the plans that we have in place are working and no one is running away from there.”

“I would think it is premature to start making any conclusions and saying that we ran away,” Makarov added.

His remarks came after some unconfirmed report began circulating in Russian media claiming that Moscow has decided to reduce the number of its military personnel in a naval center in the Syrian city of Tartus.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011.

The Syrian government says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the armed insurgents are foreign nationals.  Continue reading