Five Russian warships entered the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday and are scheduled to dock in Limassol, Cyprus.
Russian news sources reported that the ships would bolster the country’s new regional task force. Russia currently has a naval base in Tartous, Syria.
In March, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that the naval task force was needed in order to protect Russian interests in the region.
“The task force has successfully passed through the Suez Canal and entered the Mediterranean,” Capt. First Rank Roman Martov was quoted as saying in Russian news agency RIA Novosti. “It is the first time in decades that Pacific Fleet warships enter this region.”
The Russian navy maintained a squadron of 30-50 ships in the region from 1967 until 1992 as part of its Cold War with the United States.
According to RIA Novosti, the task force currently includes an anti-submarine ship, a frigate, and rescue tugs. Joining the task force from the Pacific fleet are a destroyer, amphibious warfare ships, and a tanker.
On Sunday, Navy Commander Admiral Viktor Chirkov said that nuclear submarines may be added to the task force in the future.
According to the Russian defense ministry, the command and control agencies for the Mediterranean task force will be based in either Novorossiysk, Russia, or Sevastopol, Ukraine.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.