Russian task force makes Syrian port call
Russian missile cruiser Moskva - on a NATO exercise - docked at Syrian Latakia port on Feb. 21
A task force led by the Moskva and the Azov landing ship became the first Russian naval force in a decade to call at a Syrian port.
DEBKAfiles military sources report: The force sailed out of its home port of Sevastopol on the Black Sea, on Feb. 5, to join a NATO-led anti-terrorist operation in the Mediterranean for a combined three-month drill focusing on combating the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction, illegal weapons trade and migration. The drill is named The Active Endeavors Operation. NATO leaders and US army chiefs were keen enough on Russian participation for NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to promise the gesture of the first visit by an alliance chief aboard the Moskva.
However, neither he nor the Americans taking part in the exercise had any idea that the Russian naval force intended to break away from the exercise long enough to put in at a Syrian port a call which Syrian president Bashar Assad took as a gesture of support from Moscow. The visit underlined the Kremlins plan to play a larger part in the military affairs of the Middle East, largely by making friendly overtures to Americas adversaries. President Vladimir Putins invitation to discuss arms sales in Moscow with an invited Hamas delegation was part of this picture.
On Feb. 15, in the course of the NATO drill, the Moskva captured the British destroyer the Nottingham when it played the part of the enemy. The Russian cruiser also seized the Spanish frigate Navarro.
Is it just me, or is this a little too ironic?
Posted by: RWV 2006-02-23