Russian Naval official rejects any connection to the Syria crisis

Russia denies Syria link to naval moves

Fri, 30 Aug 2013 07:54:00 GMT

A Russian naval official has rejected any connection to the Syria crisis of the reported redeployment of its naval fleet in the Mediterranean Sea, insisting that it is part of a “planned rotation.”

The hinted denial by a Russian naval spokesperson, cited in a Moscow-based RIA Novosti report on Thursday, follows the widely reported suggestions by international media outlets that the replacement of a group of Russian warships in the Mediterranean Sea was linked to the escalation of Syrian crisis to be changed in direct connection with events in Syria.

“The vessels in the Mediterranean, like those in other parts of the world, act under plans by the Russian Naval Command and General Staff, and fulfill tasks set,” said the unnamed naval spokesperson cited in the report.
The remarks came after Commander of the Russian Navy Admiral Viktor Chirkov told a local TV station on Sunday that Russia “should have five or six vessels permanently deployed in the Mediterranean,” without elaborating on how many warships were already in the area.

According to the report, the Russian naval spokesperson further reiterated that “on completion of these tasks, the vessels then either return to their bases, or are replaced by other vessels to complete the tasks set.”

“This does not amount to a renewal of any grouping or groupings, it is a planned rotation,” the navy official added, without elaborating on the class of Russian ships involved, according to the report.

Unnamed sources in the Russian General Staff were cited in reports on Thursday that Moscow plans to deploy an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the Mediterranean, amid the escalating Western war rhetoric against Syria.

“A large anti-submarine ship of the Northern Fleet will join them (the existing Russian naval forces) over the next few days. Later it will be joined by the Moskva, a rocket cruiser of the Black Sea Fleet,” the source was quoted as saying in a report by Russian news agency Interfax.

Moscow has expressed strong opposition to any military strike on Syria, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stating that the move would critically destabilize the region.

Also on Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying that “Declared plans by some states to inflict a military strike on Syria are an undisguised challenge to the key provisions of the UN Charter and other norms of international law.”

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