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.
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     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.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
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    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
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