Russian warship - Flickr/ Creative Common
Russia is heavily boosting naval presence in the Mediterranean region and they are allegedly heading to the Syrian port of Tartus amid rising tensions in the two-year Syrian conflict.
The Pacific Fleet, comprising six vessels, including a destroyer, is already on its way and is entering the Indian Ocean. It will reach the Mediterranean region in mid-May, according to reports. The naval task force will pass through the Suez Canal.
The destroyer, which carries several helicopters, is being accompanied by three advanced warships, a tug and a tanker.
The fleet has also been involved in military exercises involving monitoring for enemy targets during its travel to the destination, a spokesperson told RIA Novosti.
The task force has been deployed permanently in the region in order to protect "Russia's interests in the Mediterranean region". The decision was first announced in mid-March by Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu.
"I think that we have everything to create and maintain such a grouping. Certainly, this shows the positive dynamics of development of the Navy," Shoigu told top navy officials.
Although officials have not named the exact base for the fleet, it is believed it will be deployed in Syria's second largest port city of Tartus, Russia's only naval base in the region. Moscow maintains a small-scale Soviet-era resupply base in the area. Russia has remained a strong ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, during the two-year long uprising against him in the country.
Moscow has also shrugged off earlier reports that suggested the country is looking to change its naval base in the region to Beirut from Taurus.
"The reports that Russian warships ... will use Beirut rather than the Syrian port of Tartus as a resupply point are nothing but pure speculation," said the Russian Defence Ministry.
Unconfirmed reports also speculate Moscow is eyeing a new naval base in Cyprus, a country where Russian oligarchs have huge deposits of money.
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