Russian Navy to deploy Mediterranean fleet in bid to protect national security

Russian Navy: Putin said the plan should not be seen as saber rattling, but it comes as Moscow is serving as a key ally and arms supplier to Syrian President Bashar Assad during that nation's civil war. 

Murad Sezer/Reuters
A Turkish Navy Coast Guard boat (l.) escorts the Russian Navy destroyer Smetlivy in the Bosphorus in Istanbul, in 2012.

Russia announced on Thursday that it will keep a fleet of about dozen navy ships in the Mediterranean Sea, a move President Vladimir Putin said is needed to protect his country's national security.

Putin said the plan should not be seen as saber rattling, but it comes as Moscow is serving as a key ally and arms supplier to Syrian President Bashar Assad during that nation's civil war. The only naval base that Russia has in the Mediterranean and anywhere outside the former Soviet Union is located in Syria.

Russian ships have been making regular visits to the Mediterranean, but the statements by Putin and other officials mark an attempt to revive a Soviet-era practice, when Moscow had a permanent navy presence in the waterway.

The chief of the military General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, said Thursday that Russia currently has 16navy ships in the Mediterranean. The Defense Ministry said it would regularly rotate them to keep a presence of about a dozen.

Speaking at a meeting with the top military brass, Putin said the sea is a "strategically important region, where we have interests connected with ensuring Russia's national security."

The statement is part of Putins' efforts to boost his nation's military and showcase its power worldwide.

Military officials have said in the past that Russian navy ships in the Mediterranean could be used to evacuate equipment and personnel from the Syrian port of Tartus. Previous deployments have invariably included amphibious landing vessels, which could serve the purpose.

Analysts and retired naval officers point out that Russia lost much of its navy capability during the post-Soviet economic decline, when the military had to mothball relatively modern ships for lack of funds to maintain them. The military has commissioned new navy ships as part of a costly military buildup, but their construction has dragged on slowly.

Experts say the current plan will stretch the Russian fleet capability and note that the base in Tartus, a rundown facility made up of a floating pier and a few aging barracks and warehouses, can't provide a sufficient backup for the permanent navy presence in the region.

It's also too small for big ships, which must stay at sea.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Russian Navy to deploy Mediterranean fleet in bid to protect national security
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Latest-News-Wires/2013/0606/Russian-Navy-to-deploy-Mediterranean-fleet-in-bid-to-protect-national-security
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe