Soviet flotilla masses; rendezvous in Mideast?

A large force of Soviet warships is concentrating in the South China Sea in a move linked with the Afghanistan crisis, Western military sources said Thursday. They said a 10-ship task group, the most powerful Soviet naval formation ever sighted in northeast Asia and commanded by a rear admiral, was steaming in the Pacific toward the Bashi Channel, between Taiwan and the Philippines. They said it would enter the South China Sea shortly.

The sources said some of the ships were probably bound for the Indian Ocean or the Arabian Sea, where 55 Soviet and American warships gathered after the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan.

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