Russian General Staff: Warships Ready To Go To Syria
June 15, 2012
Black Sea Fleet ships ready to go to Syrian coast – General Staff
MOSCOW: A number of warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet are prepared to go to Syria, the Russian General Staff told Itar-Tass on Friday.
“The Mediterranean Sea is a zone of the Black Sea Fleet responsibility. Hence, warships may go there in the case it is necessary to protect the Russian logistics base in Tartous, Syria,” it said.
“Several warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, including large landing ships with marines aboard, are fully prepared to go on the voyage,” he said.
The Cesar Kunikov large landing ship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which is returning from Italian Messina to base, passed the Bosporus Strait on Friday. It will return to Sevastopol on Saturday, the staff said.
It strongly denied U.S. media reports claiming that a Black Sea Fleet warship had already headed for Tartous. “All the ships are staying in Sevastopol but the Cesar Kunikov large landing ship. Either the U.S. intelligence service works poorly or they have a poor knowledge of geography,” the source said.
The U.S. media said that Russia had sent a small group of servicemen to Syria for protecting the Tartous base. NBC said with the reference to a U.S. official that the servicemen were going to Tartous aboard a warship. The State Department spokesperson said she could not confirm the NBC report.
A group of Russian warships led by the Admiral Kuznetsov heavy aircraft carrying cruiser visited Tartous in January. The group visited the port for replenishing reserves and giving maintenance to ship systems.
Tartous is the only Russian naval base outside of former Soviet territory – this is the logistics center serving Russian ships on missions in the Mediterranean Sea. The base opened in 1971 under an agreement with the Syrian government.
June 15, 2012
Russia sets ground rules for Syria conference
Moscow: Russia is prepared to take part in an international conference on Syria to be held in Geneva on June 30 if its requirements regarding the goal of the conference and countries invited are met, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters today.
All countries participating in the conference should commit their resources to facilitate the beginning of an all-inclusive political process in Syria. Also, Russia insists that all countries wielding political clout in the region should attend, including Iran. The U.S. has spoken against inviting Iran to join the conference.
Voice of Russia
June 15, 2012
Moscow and Baghdad focus on Syria
Russia is urging the international community to convene an international conference to discuss the Syrian crisis. The settlement of the Syrian crisis has been the focus of the talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari currently under way in Moscow.
Syria is Iraq’s next-door neighbour, and the two nations have traditionally enjoyed close political and economic relations. Iraq, which is currently presiding over the League of Arab States, could make a considerable contribution to a peaceful settlement of the Syrian problem, Sergey Lavrov said.
The international community has long been trying to put an end to the ongoing violence in Syria which has been tearing the country apart for over a year. In accordance with the plan devised by UN and the League of Arab States special envoy Kofi Annan, a truce was announced in Syria in the middle of April and UN observers have since been keeping a close eye on the developments in the country. However, the conflicting sides regularly report incidents of violence and new casualties. According to Sergey Lavrov, at an informal session held by the UN General Assembly in New York last week, Russia proposed to convene a conference on the Syrian problem, which would bring together the countries that could help solve the Syrian crisis.
“All the permanent members of the UN Security Council, Syria’s neighbours, like Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, other key players in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran, as well as international organizations, such as the League of Arab States and the European Union, should take part in this conference. They should come up with measures that could bring about an internal dialogue between the Syrian government and all the opposition groups, which is exactly what Kofi Annan’s peace plan envisages.”
The Iraqi Foreign Minister supported his Russian counterpart’s proposal. He stressed that any international meetings aimed at solving the Syrian problem should involve all the interested parties, including Syria’s neighbours. Hoshyar Zebari also declared that Iraq supported Syria’s aspiration for a better life and democracy. He said that Russia is an important player both in the global area and in the Middle East, so it should be involved in any discussions related to the Syrian problem. For this reason, he said, Iraq supports Russia’s initiative to convene an international conference on Syria and believes that it can make an important contribution to the implementation of Kofi Annan’s plan.
At the end of the talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow was hoping that the UN Security Council would not sanction a military operation aimed at replacing Syria’s incumbent political regime and that the US would not take any steps bypassing the UN Security Council.