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.