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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More