From Thomas Grove, Reuters: Russia is sending a flotilla of warships to its naval base in Syria in a show of force which suggests Moscow is willing to defend its interests in the strife-torn country as international pressure mounts on President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Arab League sanctions and French calls for the establishment of humanitarian zones in Syria have increased international pressure on Assad to end bloodshed that the United Nations says has killed 3,500 people during nine months of protests against his rule.
Russia, which has a naval maintenance base in Syria and whose weapons trade with Damascus is worth millions of dollars annually, joined China last month to veto a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Assad’s government. . . .
Izvestia newspaper reported on Monday, citing retired Russian Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, that Russia plans to send its flagship aircraft carrier the "Admiral Kuznetsov" along with a patrol ship, an anti-submarine craft and other vessels.
A navy spokesman quoted by the newspaper confirmed that the Russian warships would head to the maintenance base Russia keeps on the Syrian coast near Tartus but said the trip had nothing to do with the uprising against Assad.
The paper said the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier would be armed with at least eight Sukhoi-33 fighters, several MiG-29K fighters and two helicopters.
It will also have cruise and surface to air missiles, the paper said. (photo: naval-technology.com)