Russia to re-establish Mediterranean presence

Updated - March 02, 2013 10:38 pm IST

Published - March 01, 2013 08:19 pm IST - MOSCOW:

Russia will re-establish its permanent naval presence in the Mediterranean, more than two decades after it withdrew from the region, Russian military sources said.

A naval task force, drawn from the Black Sea Fleet, will be deployed for round-the-year duty in the Mediterranean in 2015, a General Staff official told Russian news agencies on Monday.

“The force will accomplish scheduled and urgent missions on the Mediterranean theatre of operations, including deterrence of threats to Russian national and military security originating from that region,” the military official said.

Practised last month

The deployment of a new naval task force was practised during the largest war games of Russia’s three naval fleets in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean last month, he added.

The Mediterranean task force will be modelled on a Soviet Navy group that used to patrol the region during the Cold War, the official revealed.

The Fifth Operation Squadron of the Soviet Navy was set up in the Mediterranean in 1967, shortly after the six-day Arab-Israeli war. Russian historians believe the move deterred the United States from using its Sixth Fleet on the side of Israel.

The Fifth squadron, numbering up to 80 warships at its peak strength, was disbanded in 1992.

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