18 March 2013, 18:52

Russia strengthens its presence in Mediterranean Sea

Russia strengthens its presence in Mediterranean Sea

The Russian Navy will maintain 5-6 warships in the Mediterranean Sea as a task force to defend Russia’s interests in the area, RIA Novosti news agency reported Sunday citing Navy Commander Adm. Viktor Chirkov. He added that Russia may establish such task forces also in the Indian and Pacific oceans.

The admiral said that the war ships will be present in the Mediterranean Sea on a permanent basis. The task force will comprise frigates and cruisers of Russia’s Northern fleet and support vessels of the Black Sea fleet, he said. The control over the task will be be exercised through the command of the Black Sea Fleet, he said

Last week Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that Russia had the capability to form and maintain such a task force.

In January, Russia’s Navy held the largest in ten years military exercises in the Mediterranean Sea. The exercises involved warships from the Northern, Baltic, Black Sea and Pacific fleets. On finishing the drills the military command decided that Russian military ships must continue their mission in the Mediterranean Sea and sent four more assault ships there, military expert Viktor Baranets says.

"It is obvious that the Mediterranean Sea is turning into the center of a force impact on the regional countries on behalf of NATO, the US and other states. It is natural that this cannot stay beyond Russia’s vision. We see how the situation around Syria is developing and we cannot ignore the settlement of this global issue."

Chirkov did not rule out that in future Russia may create similar task forces in the Pacific and Indian oceans. When commenting this statement, adviser of the chief of the General Staff, former Commander of the Black Sea Fleet Admiral Igor Kasatonov said.

"Historically Russia was always present in those oceans or to be more exact in those areas of those oceans which were important to it. Technically, the Cam Rahn port in Vietnam is well equipped to receive Russian combat ships and there are some other ports which can be used for this purpose. Russia’s interests in those regions remain. Russia is a great sea power. The chief commander has announced that that region had crucial importance for the interests of our country. Our forces will be deployed there as long as it is necessary."

The zones of the Pacific and Indian oceans are turning into the center of global politics. The US and China are building up there military presence there and Russia wants to respond adequately to this trend.

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