Russia to send warships to Mediterranean to counter western forces

Russian and Iranian Presidents looking at political-diplomatic resolution to conflict.

Written by Express News Service | Moscow/washington/london/damascus | Published: August 29, 2013 3:22 pm

With the United Nations Security Council divided and the western clamour for a strike at Syria becoming imminent,Russia on Thursday said that the country “over the next few days” will be sending an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the Mediterranean.

“The well-known situation shaping up in the eastern Mediterranean called for certain corrections to the make-up of the naval forces,” a source in the Russian General Staff told Interfax news agency.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani reportedly spoke over the phone on Wednesday and agreed that chemical weapon use is “impermissible” but oppose intervention in their ally Syria,the Kremlin said after the two held telephone talks.

“Both sides consider that the use of chemical weapons by anyone is impermissible. Considering the calls for outside military intervention in the Syrian conflict,they have also highlighted the need to seek ways to settle the conflict solely through political-diplomatic means,” said a statement posted on the Kremlin website late on Wednesday.

Iran,the chief regional ally of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime,has spoken out against Western military intervention in Syria after suspected chemical weapons attacks on the outskirts of Damascus last week.

Russia has supported the Damascus regime throughout the two-and-a-half-year conflict by vetoing UN Security Council resolutions aiming to increase pressure on Assad and is widely expected to do so again,fostering disappointment and bitterness in the US establishment for its refusal to co-operate. US President Barack Obama said that he had become convinced on Wednesday that Assad’s regime used chemical weapons. However,the country’s strategic experts have warned that an attack on the regime could invite retaliation from it and its allies in the form of terror attacks,cyber wars or use of force against the US’s allies in the Middle East.

Meanwhile,United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked people all over the world to be patient and await the results of the investigations currently undertaken by the chemicals experts team in and around Damascus to determine whether or not chemical agents were used as a means for warfare. He also said the team would leave Syria on Saturday.

(With PTI,AFP and Reuters inputs)

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