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Russia might expand military presence in Mediterranean
August 29, 2013, 10:55 am

[Getty Images]

Four US Navy destroyers are currently in the eastern Mediterranean Sea waiting for a possible order to launch [Getty Images]

Russia might increase its military presence in the Mediterranean if the United States sends more naval ships to the region due to the escalating situation in Syria.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Tuesday in a BBC interview that the US is ready to launch strikes on Syria should President Barack Obama order an attack.

Four US Navy destroyers are currently in the eastern Mediterranean Sea waiting for a possible order to launch.

“Russia might reinforce its military presence in the Mediterranean if the US increases the number of ships in the region to preempt the escalation of aggression,” Interfax quoted Leonid Ivashov, President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems as saying.

The Russian Navy later denied that a deployment would be linked to the situation in Syria and said it was part of a planned rotation.

Admiral Viktor Chirkov, Commander of the Russian Navy told Zvezda television channel that there has been “no renewal of any grouping or groupings, it is a planned rotation.”

“The vessels in the Mediterranean, like those in other parts of the world, act under plans by the Russian Naval Command and General Staff, and fulfill tasks set.

“On completion of these tasks, the vessels then either return to their bases, or are replaced by other vessels to complete the tasks set,” said Chirkov.

Moscow, meanwhile, warned of “catastrophic consequences” in the Middle East if the US resorts to military intervention in the Syrian civil war, in the aftermath of reports of a recent chemical weapons attack.

Russia has repeatedly advised the US and its allies not to repeat the mistakes of the past, citing the events that unfolded in 2003 in Iraq, as well as the Libyan scenario.

At a meeting between Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday in the Hague, Moscow stressed that “the plans of a military strike against Syria, declared by some states challenge the UN Charter as well as international law.”

Russia and China have both called for a political and diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis and urged restraint from all sides till the UN experts complete their probe.

“At this stage it is necessary to use political and diplomatic instruments to the maximum, first and foremost by letting the UN experts inspecting possible chemical weapons use in Syria complete their mandate and report the results to the UN Security Council,” Gatilov told Ban, according to a ministry statement.

Ban told UNSC members on Wednesday, “Give peace a chance, give diplomacy a chance, stop fighting and start talking”.

Daria Chernyshova in Moscow for The BRICS Post

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