Moscow 31st August 2013 : Russia has sent two powerful warships to the Mediterranean Sea for strengthening its normal naval presence among rising expectations of Western airstrikes on Syria.
But senior Russian naval officer denied Thursday this meant it was beefing up its naval force there as Western powers is getting ready for military action against Syria.
But a Russian General Staff source said that “the well-known situation now in the eastern Mediterranean required us to make some adjustments to the naval force,” according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.
The U.S. dispatched a fifth guided-missile destroyer, the Stout on Thursday to the region as Western threats loomed of punishing Assad for his alleged chemical weapon attack on 21st of this month. Hundreds of people were reportedly killed in the attack.
It was not clear how many naval vessels Russia would have in the region once the missile cruiser Moskva of the Black Sea Fleet reaches from its current deployment in the Northern Atlantic.
The commander of the Russian navy, Adm. Viktor Chirkov, told Zvezda television that Russia “should have five or six vessels permanently deployed in the Mediterranean,” but did not say how many were already in the area.
Russia’s armed forces chief of staff said in June that the navy had permanently based 16 warships in the Mediterranean, as well as ship-based helicopter units.
Russia may have deployed the extra naval power this week in a muscle-flexing exercise, to put Western forces on notice that Moscow is observing over the tense standoff with Syria, its most important ally in the Middle East. Russia maintains a strategic naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus but has reportedly evacuated civilian and nonessential personnel in recent days.
The Russian ships now steaming toward the eastern Mediterranean would be able to recognize the cruise missile firings from Western vessels and of warning Damascus of the incoming munitions. They are also equipped with jamming equipment that could interfere with radar and communications aboard other ships in the region.