Russia Boosts Mediterranean Force as U.S. Mulls Syria Strike
By Jake Rudnitsky & Henry Meyer
Sep 4, 2013
Russia is sending three more ships to the eastern Mediterranean to bolster its fleet there as a U.S. Senate panel will consider President Barack Obama’s request for authority to conduct a military strike on Syria.
Russia is sending two destroyers, including the Nastoichivy, the flagship of the Baltic Fleet, and the Moskva missile cruiser to the region, Interfax reported today, citing an unidentified Navy official. That follows last week’s dispatch of a reconnaissance ship to the eastern Mediterranean, four days after the deployment of an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the area, which were reported by Interfax. Syria hosts Russia’s only military facility outside the former Soviet Union, at the port of Tartus.
The buildup is raising the stakes as the U.S. prepares for possible action against Syria, sending warships and submarines to the east Mediterranean armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote today on a resolution that supports the use of force by the U.S. military.
“Russia is sending a strong signal that the conflict surrounding Syria touches on its interests, to ensure that international law is upheld and there is no bypassing the UN Security Council,” Ivan Safranchuk, deputy director of the Foreign Ministry’s Institute of Contemporary International Studies in Moscow, said by phone.