Joined: 09 Sep 2006
|Posted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:30 am Post subject: Russia to up naval presence in Syria
|Russia to up naval presence in Syria
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 27, 2008
Russia plans to increase its military presence in the Mediterranean by using
Syrian ports more frequently, Reuters reported a Russian diplomat as saying
"Our Navy presence in the Mediterranean will increase," Igor Belyaev, the
Russian charge d'affaires, told reporters in Damascus. "Russian vessels will
be visiting Syria and other friendly ports more frequently."
"The visits are continuing," he added.
The comments come despite a recent phone call between Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in which the latter reaffirmed
Moscow's commitment to maintain strong ties with Jerusalem amid tensions
which surfaced between the two states as a result of the conflict in
Syrian President Bashar Assad visited Moscow last week, prompting concerns
in Jerusalem that Russia might boost arms sales to Damascus. But the acting
Russian ambassador to Israel categorically denied such fears.
"Why would we do that?" Anatoly Yurkov told The Jerusalem Post, referring to
a query about a Syrian request for Moscow to place the advanced Iskander
missile system in its territory.
The export model of the Iskander is difficult to shoot down and has a
280-km. range. If stationed in Syria, the missiles could deliver
conventional explosives to almost anywhere in Israel.
In his comments, Belyaev refused to go into detail about what was discussed
and agreed upon during Assad's visit, saying only that "the two leaders gave
their directions to advance ties in the economy, trade and energy fields, as
well as military cooperation."
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report
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