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Russia considers sending more forces to fight Somali pirates

03.12.2008 Source: en.rian.ru

Russia's envoy to the UN said on Tuesday that Russia is considering sending additional forces to fight pirates off Somali coast.

"The possibility of sending additional Russian Navy forces to the region is being studied," Vitaly Churkin told the UN Security Council.

The Council adopted earlier on Tuesday a new resolution on tackling piracy off the Horn of Africa. The document, introduced by the U.S., allows countries to use force against pirates, and provides a legal framework for anti-piracy operations.

In October, Russia dispatched the Neustrashimy (Fearless) missile frigate from its Northern Fleet to Somalia's coast to protect shipping lanes. During the current mission, the Neustrashimy has so far escorted six convoys, comprising a total of 20 ships, and prevented the seizure of at least two commercial vessels by pirates.

Commenting on the UN anti-piracy resolution, Churkin said it was "a step forward" and would help to coordinate counter-piracy measures.

He said Russia believes that "to effectively implement the anti-piracy measures approved by the UN Security Council, there must be coherent and well-coordinated actions from states."

According to the UN, Somali pirates have attacked over 120 ships so far this year, resulting in the seizure of 39 vessels and the capture of at least 600 merchant seamen for ransom. The east African nation has been without a functioning government since 1991 and has no navy to police its coastline.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his quarterly report to the UN Security Council in November that pirates had earned up to $30 million in ransoms this year. The Security Council has also adopted a British-proposed resolution on tougher sanctions against Somalia over the country's failure to prevent a surge in sea piracy.

NATO and the EU are to launch on December 8 a joint naval operation, dubbed Atalanta, against piracy near the coast of Somalia. The operation could involve up to 10 warships.

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