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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: AJ from: Central Florida
July 10, 2012 2:05 PM
Putin has no choice but to send aid to Assad. If Assad's regime falls then Putin will have few other fellow Dictators.. err "Democracies" with whom to conspire and rely upon.

In Response

by: FromRussia
July 10, 2012 2:44 PM
@AJ

Tell that to your fellow dictators in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and all those terrorist supporting nations you are so afraid to upset.


by: Farnborough from: UK
July 10, 2012 2:02 PM
Remember, the Russians hate the Turkies (someone here called them the Foul Fowls...) so, this Russian Naval move is designed to check Erdogan and his Islamists from increased intervention in Syria... pay attention to how fast the Islamists turkies forgot the downed F-4 and the the two pilots without an ejection seats... and note how fast they withdraw their forces from the border with Syria

In Response

by: Mustafa from: Izmir Turkey
July 10, 2012 3:40 PM
first of all... its not "turkies" its Turks... and we are not some ugly birds who can not fly... second of all, why did you not report about the atrocities the British brought on the region?


by: Andi Chin from: LA
July 10, 2012 1:47 PM
Sending ships does not mean anything. USA send ships also. It's just from the American point of view - Russia supports. But sending ships in case of Assad collapse, coul dbe treated as help for opposition.

In Response

by: Anonymous
July 10, 2012 3:07 PM
@Andi

Sending ships is a Sicilian message)) It means Turkish and NATO ambitions for Syria Iran and Cspian oil and gas are sleeping with the fishes... Just like that F-4R Phantom.

In Response

by: Anonymous
July 10, 2012 2:53 PM
The dismal state of Russian fleet is a mantra that NATO folks like to repeat after the Collapse of USSR but I got new for you -- it is no longer in dismal state and is being actively rebuilt.

And another thing 58th army was also in DISMAL state when it annihilated American And ISraeli traineda and equipped Gergian army. So you better hope and pray that we are in as dsimal state as you think cus when tactical nukes starting hitting near your fleet you will not know what hit you.

In Response

by: Ed the C from: The Carolinas
July 10, 2012 2:39 PM
I'm a little surprised that Russia could manage to get the ships underway, given the dismal state of their fleet. I wonder how many will have to be towed home?

Comments page of 2
 Previous    

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid