News / Middle East

Russia Sends Warships to Mediterranean

Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses Russian Ambassadors during their meeting in the Foreign Ministry, in Moscow, July 9, 2012. Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses Russian Ambassadors during their meeting in the Foreign Ministry, in Moscow, July 9, 2012.
x
Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses Russian Ambassadors during their meeting in the Foreign Ministry, in Moscow, July 9, 2012.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses Russian Ambassadors during their meeting in the Foreign Ministry, in Moscow, July 9, 2012.
James Brooke
MOSCOW — For the last year, the Russian government has tried to project an image of neutrality in the increasingly bloody conflict in Syria.

Now, it may be sending a signal of support to its longtime ally, President Bashar al-Assad, by sending warships to the area. Russia may also want to protect its forces at its Tartus naval base.

A flotilla of Russian Navy ships set sail Tuesday for the Mediterranean, where Russia maintains a small base at Tartus, Syria.

A destroyer and three landing ships left the Arctic port of Severomorsk. A second destroyer left Russia’s base at Sevastopol, Ukraine. And Interfax reported that more warships from the Baltic Fleet, based in St. Petersburg, are preparing to join the flotilla.

The warships set sail the day after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin accused the West of “missile bomb democracy.”

In a key policy speech to top Russian diplomats gathered in Moscow, he accused the West of using deception to gain political advantage.

“This can be seen from the so-called humanitarian operations, from exports of the ‘missile-bomb’ democracy, and intervention in internal conflicts, including those bred by the ‘Arab spring’,” said the president.

Putin’s hardline rhetoric came as Syrian opposition groups have come to Moscow to lobby the Kremlin to stop supporting Syria's President Assad.

While briefing reporters, Basma Kodmani, a member of the executive bureau of the Syrian National Council, appealed to Russia to help Syrians turn the page and switch to a new democratic system.
 
The Kremlin and Syria’s opposition share common ground - a fear of chaos, anarchy and religious radicalism, she said.

During the Assad family’s 40-year rule of Syria, thousands of Syrians studied in Moscow and many married Russians.

Munzer Mahos, a member of the Syrian National Committee, started to speak in Russian to reporters before switching to Arabic.

“We consider Russia our friend, our historical ally. The former Soviet Union and now Russia have done a lot for us. We have maintained a long-time solid friendship, so this is not about pushing Russia aside,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Syrian opposition members are to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The Syrians said they would not ask Russia to give asylum to President Assad and his family.

One opposition member, Mahmoud al-Hamza, told reporters that the opposition National Council opposes granting asylum to the Syrian president. He charged that Assad “has stained his hands with the blood of the Syrian people.”

Russian diplomats say the Syrian president has not asked for asylum. They say that Russia’s relations with Syria are not tied to the Assad family remaining in power.

On Monday, another Syrian opposition group, the Democratic Forum, met with Foreign Minister Lavrov.

Afterwards, one member of the group, Hazem Nahar, warned the Kremlin to stop sitting on the fence.

“The more you wait, the greater the risk Islamists will come to power in Syria,” he said.

Looking to a post-Assad future, he warned: “If Russia does not change its position, Syria will stop being its ally.”

But, with Russian Navy ships from three Russian fleets now steaming toward Syria’s coast, the Kremlin seems to be sending a clear signal that it will stand by Assad.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Anonymous
July 13, 2012 6:06 PM
Russia to send ships to support Assad? So we have Russia, China Assad and Iran on one side and The free Syrian Army, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Al Qaida on the other with the West in the middle!...What a mess!....lol

by: aish from: melbourne
July 13, 2012 5:09 PM
russia and china are enimies of real democracy

by: Anonymous
July 12, 2012 9:45 PM
The people of Syria don't like you Russian Government, should I have to tell you why? Be prepared to be BOOTED out of Syria by the PEOPLE, not military. Once the war is over you will be requested to leave for not protecting the people of Syria and allowing atrocities to take place. What were you guys thinking???

by: Mike
July 10, 2012 4:35 PM
Russia failed state with a rusty weapons from the Soviet Union. Therefore, sending Russian warships to the coast of Syria does not matter. Putin's Russia has a syndrome of Soviet imperialism. But a weak Russia can not do anything. And if the U.S. and the West in general will want to eliminate the dictatorial regime of Assad they do regardless of the wishes of Russia.
In Response

by: Mike
July 11, 2012 3:48 PM
To: Anonymous. Gergian army was not equipped by american. The Georgian army had the same rusty Soviet weapons that have Russian. Americans were sent to Georgia a few cars Hammer and radar equipment. So the Gergian army fought against the Soviet junk by the same old stuff.
In Response

by: Ferrin from: US
July 11, 2012 2:06 PM
I agree F--K Russia and Putin. Putin and Assad are murderious control freaks who know nothing of Democracy and Human Rights
I applaud the Syrian people for standing up for change!!!
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 11, 2012 10:30 AM
Those rusty weapons sure kicked american equipped Gergian army's azz

by: Ruthless
July 10, 2012 3:00 PM
Fact is unlike Germany and Japan USSR/Russia was never conquered at the end fo the Cold War. The way we Russians look at it is we had to take a break to switch from old communist model to new capitalist principles and now we are back with a vengeance just when you are weak and overstretched. And you better believe it we are prepared for WAR as we always ARE. We are brought up to be prepared for WAR and all kinds of nasty. What about you? And if you think this is gonna be anything like killing innocent shepherds in Astan or Lybuia - think AGAIN.

by: FromRussia
July 10, 2012 2:55 PM
Many more surprises are coming your way in Syria. You think this is gonna be as easy as Libya? THINK AGAIN. Matter of fact we let you kill Qaddafi just so the wolrd can see how bloodthirsty you are. But let me tell you Syria will be different much different and you need to get ready cuz it's gonna get UGLY and HAIRY quick. Russian bear on the prowl so you b...ches watch out...

by: Anonymous
July 10, 2012 2:49 PM
Sure, Putin knows everything about democracy. He's the expert, not the rest of the world. He gets to decide who is truly democratic and who isn't. I mean, he IS coming from the country which for the last half century was the single staunch defender of democracy in the world.

That shark should be kept out of politics. He thrives on power and controversy. He would do anything to get back to the cold war era.

by: Jerry from: NYC
July 10, 2012 2:34 PM
The Russians are emboldened due to Obama's demonstrated weakness in the world and his clear indifference to the Syrian situation. They, the Chinese, and other adversarial powers are and will continue to encroach upon American interests. Leading from behind and creating power vacuums in the world will result in more economic problems at home.
In Response

by: Jasmin from: Australia
July 12, 2012 4:28 AM
I got news for you Jerry.
The world is not American and you don't have any right to treat it as such.
Wake up time is coming.
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 10, 2012 10:26 PM
lets not forget US led -Iraq war, how many lost lives there ? over 1 million
In Response

by: JR from: BR
July 10, 2012 8:09 PM
Obama is doing the right thing, that is, to yield submission to UN. Not as Bush did and it is costing a lof for you in lives and money. Putin is a dictator under the face of democratic, who won elections on non-plain manner. Beyond that the world power balance is changind faster than you seem to be capable to see.
In Response

by: Paul Nicholas Boylan from: Sacramento
July 10, 2012 3:55 PM
You have it completely wrong. The Obama administration, for all its apparent domestic faults, has conducted a brilliant foreign policy that has helped the US regain the position that eight years of George Bush's incompetency lost - despite having less money to do it - again, due to George Bush's incompetency. Your comment reveals either a fanatic drive to criticize Obama for anything and everything or a gross ignorance of geopolitics.

I am not happy with Obama's domestic efforts. But his foreign efforts to regain what we lost during the Bush years, despite enormous obstacles, is nothing less than brilliant.
In Response

by: RussiaStrong
July 10, 2012 3:05 PM
Jerry you are laughable It's not about Obama being weak. It's the US that is getting weaker by the day and you have Bush policies and mistakes in Eurasia to thank for that. You can do whatever you want and elect whoever you want. The bottom line is Russia is coming back to its deserved superpower status. We operate on a completely different level as a civilization and it looks to us as it time is ripe to kick some Turkish and Free Syria n terrorist rebel and matter of fact NATO azz. WE got nothing to loose and only much to gain. What about you capitalist fools? Would you risk everything for a little tactical nuclear weapon skirmish with us? Eh? Anyways it's GAME TIME. get ready.

by: Jas from: UK
July 10, 2012 2:19 PM
Under the Czars the Russian fleet was as effective as a blancmange when dealing with foreign countries. Russia is there not for Syria but because Israel has huge discoveries of gas initially at £ trillion cu ft and 250 billion barrels of oil nearly matching Saudis original 260 billion barrels. Russia therfore sees a small nation that it can threaten. What Russia doesn't understand this was prophesied over 300 years ago, Many of us bible students have looked for the hook in the jaws that would draw out Russia to join with Arab allies to attack the Jews in in Israel state.Here it is Oil and Gas that is the draw. Yahwehnewscom
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 10, 2012 2:40 PM
@Jas

Oh please STFU. Those ships are carrying multiple tactical nuclear weapons some carried by supersonic missiles capable of inflicting significant damage on anything NATO has to bring.

So please try to f with us and you will taste just how effective Russian fleet can be.

by: Anonymous
July 10, 2012 2:17 PM
Thanks to Obama's demonstrated weakness in the world, the Russians are emboldened. They, the Chinese, and other adversarial powers are and will continue to encroach on American interests.
In Response

by: Plain Mirror from: Abidjan
July 13, 2012 2:57 PM
Of a truth, America suddenly metamorphosised into No.1 internatinal backer of rebels. It is obvious that America's Obama and his pal France Sarkozy trained up these rebel leaders, projecting them with a mirrage democratic change, whereas the deals have been set to systematically infuse their loyalists in power. America is never contented with what it has. This system and cuns have failed this time arround. The battle line has been drawn. America should check and balance its sinking economy through some other means and not by fronting their terrorists and rebels.
In Response

by: Hassan from: Lebanon
July 10, 2012 3:35 PM
what American Interests...??? is Syria an American interest??? give us a break... the only American real interest in the region is Israel... and they are virtually tied by an umbilical cord... so its not even a "foreign interest",,, the only other interest is Saudi Arabia... and even this is just nominal interest...
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 10, 2012 2:42 PM
@Anonymous

Russians do not care about how weak Obama i. Stop repeating that MYTH. You can elect a redneck conservative or whoever you want but we will fight for Syria. The reason for that is becase NATO plans for Syria and IRan have everything to do with Caspian oil and resource base and we can see right through that. So we will fight for the Caspian oil even if ti means THERMONUCLEAR WAR albeit fought out in the Mediterranean
Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs