Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered large-scale unplanned exercises in the Black Sea region involving 36 warships and close to 7,000 personnel.
Putin issued the order today at 4 a.m. Moscow time on his way back from Durban, South Africa, where he attended a summit of the BRICS emerging-market nations, the president’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on a conference call.
No advance international notification is required for exercises with less than 7,000 personnel, according to Peskov. The maneuvers, which will also involve air force, paratroopers, marines and intelligence units, are “in accordance with international laws,” he said.
Russia has used its Black Sea Fleet, based in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol, to deploy warships near the shores of Syria, its Soviet-era ally where it maintains a naval resupply base at the Mediterranean port of Tartus. Syria’s President Bashar al- Assad is battling an insurgency in its third year.
Russia plans to form a permanently deployed naval squadron in the Mediterranean from 2015, which will be created with warships drawn from the Black Sea Fleet, Interfax reported in February, citing an unidentified military official.
The force will be modeled after the Soviet Union’s permanently forward-deployed Mediterranean squadron, according to Interfax. The ships will be used to react to regional conflicts and help fend off threats from the area to Russia’s national security, the Moscow-based news service said.
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