Russia has revealed its intention to build on its presence in the Mediterranean Sea by increasing its fleet in the region to up to 10 battleships.
The additional deployment will primarily concentrate on the Eastern Mediterranean, the area nearest the Syrian crisis zone, Victor Chirkov, the head of the Russian Navy explained.
“The task is crystal clear: to avoid a slightest threat to the security of the state. This is a general practice of all fleets around the world, to be there when a tension level increases,” Chirkov, who holds the rank of Admiral of the Fleet.
“They are all going to act on the operational command plan of the offshore maritime zone. Russia will be building up its fleet until it is deemed sufficient to perform the task.”
Russia has retained a constant presence in the Sea as a matter of policy since the end of last year, when the Syrian struggle began to escalate from an offshoot of the Arab Spring into an all-out civil war. Currently, it has seven warships patrolling the region.
Moscow’s announcement that it intends to add to its Mediterranean presence was compounded by its decision to send in its flagship missile cruiser, the Moskva – a powerful destroyer fitted with Vulkan missiles, weapons specifically designed to disable large vessels. The ship is being called in from the Black Sea, a region which contains a notoriously high number of Russian naval vessels, and is expected to arrive in the Mediterranean sometime over the weekend.
Chirkov noted that approximately 80 Russian naval vessels are currently operating in international waters, ready to be called to action.
Russia’s decision to move additional ships into the region comes despite it denying at the beginning of the month that it intended to beef up its presence.
At the time, the country’s naval command had criticised the US for adding to its compliment in the Sea. On September 3 the US Navy announced that it would add two warships to the three that were already patrolling the region, significantly boosting its firepower. Together the five now in the region boast upwards of 200 Tomahawk missiles.