Russian Landing Ships Getting Ready for Deployment to Syria
Photo: Large landing ship Caesar Kunikov. Southern Military District Press Service
Crews of Black Sea Fleet (BSF) landing ships Nikolai Filchenkov and Caesar Kunikov were suddenly ordered to be prepared for deployment off Syria, an informed source in Moscow said.
"Large landing ship Caesar Kunikov returned from the Mediterranean on June 16 and today took sea again to carry out pre-deployment activities. The crew is currently passing measured-mile run. Landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov is getting ready for deployment as well. Crew of rescue tug SB-15 is in the 4-hour readiness; the tug will maintain activities of the Russian task force", the source told Interfax.
"Marine units are also ready to get onboard the three ships", he added.
As for the source, all three ships will accommodate parties attached by Black Sea Fleet (BSF) Marine Brigade headed by Hero of Russia Col. Vladimir Beliavsky. "For the shipborne service, we take the toughest guys from assault battalion led by Colonel Vladimir Latynin", emphasized the interviewee.
"There has not been a command to depart so far. But the assigned tasks have not been canceled either. So, the crews are still ready for deployment", said the source.
He added that "the task to get ready to protect national interests near Syrian coast was set to naval mariners suddenly".
According to Vzglyad, TV channel NBC referring to sources in US military reported on Friday that Russia had dispatched warships to Syria in order to protect a Russian naval base in Tartus.
In its turn, Russian military diplomatic source in Moscow confirmed that "one of Black Sea Fleet landing ships is literally 'on the crouch start' ready to head for Syria". "There is a group of marines on board the ship tasked to protect infrastructure of Russian Navy's technical maintenance base in Syrian port Tartus, if needed", he said.
On the next day, CNN referring to Pentagon reported that, according to satellite photos, landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov was heading for Syria; the ship began to load in Sevastopol on June 7.
This information was soon denied by Russian General Staff. "All our ships are presently in the base Sevastopol except landing ship Caesar Kunikov. But the ship is heading in the Black Sea on her way from Italian port Messina. Either American intelligence blunders or it neglected school course in geography", said a Russian military official.