International
0

Russia to Hold Naval Exercises Off Syrian Coast

Russia to Hold Naval Exercises Off  Syrian CoastRussia to Hold Naval Exercises Off  Syrian Coast

Russia called on Friday for military-to-military cooperation with the United States to avert “unintended incidents” as it stages navy exercises off the coast of Syria.

At a news conference in Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blamed Washington for cutting off direct military-to-military communication between Russia and NATO after the crisis in Ukraine last year. Such contacts were “important for the avoidance of undesired, unintended incidents”, Lavrov said.

“We are always in favor of military people talking to each other in a professional way. They understand each other very well,” Lavrov said. “If, as (US Secretary of State) John Kerry has said many times, the United States wants those channels frozen, then be our guest.”

Moscow, an ally of Damascus since the Cold War, maintains its only Mediterranean naval base at Tartous on the Syrian coast, and defending it would be a strategic aim, Reuters reported.

“Russian naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean were long-planned and in accordance with international law,” he said.

A source close to the Russian Navy said a squadron of five Russian ships equipped with guided missiles had set off to conduct maneuvers in Syrian waters.

“They will train to repulse an attack from the air and to defend the coast, which means firing artillery and testing short-range air defense systems, “ the source said, adding that the exercise had been agreed with the Syrian government.

Russia has given notice of several rounds of navy drills with rocket firing tests in the sea off Syria from Sept. 8 to Oct. 7, according to Cypriot aviation authorities and international governmental databases of notices for airmen. Some flight paths will be temporarily closed.

 

Financialtribune.com