DAMASCUS, January 9 (RIA Novosti)
- Russian Navy to take part in several joint drills in 2012
- Russian aircraft carrier readies for training mission
- Russian Navy to continue important patrols around the world
- Russia sends Black Sea Fleet ship to Mediterranean
Syrian authorities have called the visit of a Russian naval task force to the port of Tartus a “show of solidarity with the Syrian people,” the official SANA news agency reported.
A Russian task force, led by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, arrived in Tartus on Sunday to replenish water and food supplies during a long-term training mission in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
“We highly respect Russia’s honorable stance in support of the Syrian people,” SANA cited Governor of Tartus Atef al-Naddaf as saying.
Russia maintains a Soviet-era naval maintenance site near Tartus as its only military foothold in the Mediterranean. Moscow is planning to modernize the facility to accommodate large warships, including missile cruisers and even aircraft carriers after 2012.
The Russian Defense Ministry reiterated on Sunday that the visit of Russian warships to Tartus was not related to the current political crisis in Syria, and said the task force would leave the port on January 9 to continue with the training mission.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.