A group of warships from Russia’s Pacific Fleet has entered the Mediterranean waters for the first time since the Cold War, RIA Novosti reports.
“The task force has successfully passed through the Suez Channel and entered the Mediterranean,” Capt. First Rank Roman Martov said. “It is the first time in decades that Pacific Fleet warships enter this region.”
The vessels are scheduled to make a port call in Limassol, Cyprus.
Also in November two warships from the Black Sea Fleet made a rare visit to Syria’s port of Tartus, a signal of its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“The Russian defence Ministry started setting up a special force of warships in the Mediterranean in order to protect Russia’s interests in the region,” The Russian defence minister said according to Syria’s state-run news agency.
The destroyer Admiral Panteleyev, the amphibious warfare ships Peresvet and Admiral Nevelskoi, the tanker Pechenga and the salvage/rescue tug Fotiy Krylov left the port of Vladivostok on March 19 to join the task force.
RIA Novosti notes that from 1967 to 1992 the Soviet Union maintained 30-50 warships and auxiliary vessels in its 5th Mediterranean Squadron, formed to counter the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet during the Cold War.
In November the U.S. began making moves to increase the American military presence in the east Mediterranean.
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