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ST. PETERSBURG, September 2 (RIA Novosti) – More than 80 Russian naval warships and support vessels are currently at sea at combat readiness, Navy chief Admiral Viktor Chirkov said Monday.
The intensity and duration of the voyages undertaken by the navy's vessels have increased considerably in recent years, and there has been an expansion in their geographical scope, he said.
A naval task force comprised of the guided missile cruiser Moskva, the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Kulakov, the tug boat Yevgeny Khorov and tanker Ivan Bubnov are currently in the western Atlantic, he said, adding they have made unofficial visits to Cuba and Venezuela.
A Pacific task force, including the guided missile cruiser Varyag, the tanker Boris Butoma and the tug SB-522, is en route to the southwestern Pacific, the admiral said.
Long-range naval missions help improve confidence building measures and expand collaboration with foreign navies, he said.
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Iran has been a central Russian ally in the Middle East, despite considerable tensions between the two. But by renewing dialogue with the West, the new Iranian leadership has chosen another direction. The shifting terrain in the region creates new strategic, political and economic challenges for Russia.