The vessel group led by the Russian Navy’s flag vessel, Northern Fleet’s aircraft carrier “Admiral Kuznetsov” is currently on a mission in the Mediterranean. On January 7 the group arrived in the port of Tartus for replenishment of supplies, ITAR-TASS reports.
The move is considered by many observers as an apparent show of Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whose country has been gripped by a nearly 10-month bloody unrest. The Russian Navy, however, claimed the move was part of scheduled exercises and had no connection with the situation in Syria. According to a navy spokesman the mission was planned already in 2010.
The Tartus base was established in Soviet times, and is occasionally used by Russian vessels today. Currently no Russian ship is based there although civilian and military personnel are present. The naval logistics support base in Syria is now part of the Black Sea Fleet.
The vessel group will continue its mission on January 9. “Admiral Kuznetsov” will also visit Beirut, Genoa and Cyprus.