"The Neustrashimy (Fearless) frigate from the Baltic Fleet left the main naval base in Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad on Wednesday to ensure security in several regions of the world oceans," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said.
He added that Russia had decided to periodically send its warships to regions plagued by sea piracy to protect its citizens and commercial vessels.
Pirates are increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, which has no effective government and no navy to police its coastline. The International Maritime Bureau said more than 30 incidents of piracy were registered in the region in 2007. According to UN data, 26 attacks have been committed so far this year off the coast of the East African nation.
Russian nationals are frequently among the crews of civilian ships hijacked by pirates off the Somalia coast. In the most recent case pirates off the coast of Somalia seized a Ukrainian ship en route to Kenya with three Russian, 17 Ukrainian and one Latvian national on board.
"We are planning to participate in international efforts to fight piracy off the Somalia coast, but the Russian warships will conduct operations on their own," Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky earlier said.
At the beginning of June, the UN Security Council passed a resolution permitting countries to enter Somalia's territorial waters to combat "acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea."
The Neustrashimy is the only Project 1154 Yastreb class missile frigate in active service with the Russian Navy to have been built before the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is designed as a general purpose ASW ship to follow on from the Krivak class frigates and incorporates some 'stealth' technology.
The ship's armament includes SS-N-25 Switchblade anti-ship missiles, SA-N-9 Gauntlet SAM, a 100-mm gun, torpedoes and depth charges.
The frigate also carries a Ka-27 ASW helicopter.
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This war would most probably not be precipitated not by direct actions of the Russian or Ukrainian governments. The more likely cause is the clash of rival armed volunteer groups on the streets of eastern Ukraine, which would lead to the progressive involvement of armed forces on either side.