Originally posted at 17:49.
MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Navy has begun setting up a permanent task force to defend Russia’s interests in the Mediterranean, Navy Commander Adm. Viktor Chirkov said Monday.
“The defense minister has ordered us to form a task force that will operate in the Mediterranean Sea on a permanent basis,” Chirkov told reporters after a defense ministry meeting. “We have already started work on this task.”
The move comes at a time of increased international tension in the eastern Mediterranean due to the worsening civil war in Syria.
According to Chirkov, the issue has been discussed at the Navy's Main Headquarters, with the focus on logistics and training of commanding personnel.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said earlier on Monday that a decision to deploy a permanent naval task force in the Mediterranean had been made.
“I believe that we have the capability to form and maintain such a task force,” Shoigu said, citing the success of recent large-scale naval drills carried out by the Russian navy in the Mediterranean and Black seas.
The exercises involved warships from the Northern, Baltic, Black Sea and Pacific fleets, strategic bombers and naval infantry.
Neither Shoigu nor Chirkov mentioned a timeline for the deployment of the new task force, which would likely require significant effort to ensure efficient logistics and the proper maintenance of warships in the Mediterranean group.
Shoigu admitted Monday that the general state of affairs in the navy "could not be called satisfactory," particularly in terms of poor servicing and maintenance of vessels.
“A significant part of the fleet has to be operated with extended periods [of time] between repairs, while many ships and vessels have armaments and military equipment that can be used only with restrictions," Shoigu said.
A high-ranking defense ministry source told RIA Novosti in the beginning of March that a proposed Russian permanent naval task force in the Mediterranean Sea could consist of up to 10 combat and auxiliary ships from three of the existing fleets.
The task force may operate on a rotating basis and use ports in Cyprus, Montenegro, Greece and Syria as resupply points, the official added.
The Soviet Union maintained its 5th Mediterranean Squadron in that sea from 1967 until 1992. It was formed to counter the US Navy 6th Fleet during the Cold War, and consisted of 30-50 warships and auxiliary vessels at different times.
Updated with modified headline and Shoigu's assessment of the state of the navy.
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- tec123Long awaited actions long over due...22:57, 11/03/2013Dear All,
It would seem that Putin has finally realized that he cannot protect Russia interest alone with soft power and diplomacy alone. I think Putin know full well anytime Syria falls Russia will be chastise internationally as been an obstructer to world peace and he must win this one “so to speak” moreover Russia will lose respect as a world leader in the eyes of the CIS countries and other countries worldwide who cannot say openly but hope Russia steps up and show some mussels on the International arena.
Russia only ally is its military.
Another point Putin cannot do as Tito the former president of former Yugoslavia and leave a vacuum when he leaves power and must groom or put in place future leaders who has Russia nothing but Russia in their hearts, because there are so called leaders who has only one interest and that is to sell out Russia and break it up make no mistake about that.
Do not let the Chechnya leader get to powerful because he can be a dark horse only waiting on the right moment when there is a vacuum to put his plans into actions despite his support for ruling elite.
The Russia secret service must work overtime in keeping all such hidden plans under their noses.
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