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The largest Russian fleet in Mediterranean waters since Soviet dissolution

January 30, 2014 at 11:31 am

For the first time since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a large number of ships from the Russian fleet are gathering along the Syrian coast of the Mediterranean. In the midst of a potential US-led strike on the Al-Assad regime, many wonder what is the reason behind the unprecedented Russian presence in the region?

More than ten ships and an unknown number of Russian submarines are now in Mediterranean waters, amassing a presence for first time since the dissolution of the fifth military fleet of the Soviet Union in 1992.

Observes remarked that rapid developments in the region and the potential strike on Syria demand, in return, a fast and appropriate response from Russia. Therefore, they expect that Russia’s military presence in regional waters is more than just showing off.

Observers and analysts come to this conclusion based on the quality of the fleet rather than the quantity of the ships that have come to the area. They said that the Russian fleet forms a “safety channel” for the Syrian regime.

Based on Russian military information, news agencies reported that these ships are to be used to transfer weapons to the Syrian regime and to evacuate Russian citizens from Syria if needed.

But speaking to Al-Jazeera TV, retired Egyptian colonel Safwat al-Zayyat, who is a senior military analyst, ruled out any direct involvement by Russia in the proposed war with Syria.

Al-Zayyat also ruled out the possibility that American jets would strike Syrian ports where Russian ships are located, based on a kind of reciprocal respect between the two powers, which was also clear during the Russian war in Georgia in 2008. He explained that during the 2008 war, the Russians did not target American ships positioned in the Georgian ports.