Several days ago, various media outlets misinterpreted a statement out of Russia, in which it was said that Assad may be defeated by the local Al Qaeda-funded and US-supported rebels, and which many took as an indication that the geopolitics in the Middle East may be shifting as Russian support of Syria was ending. Turns out nothing could be further from the truth, and moments ago the AP reports that a “Russian navy squadron has set off for the Mediterranean” with destination Syria. The official point of the exercise: evacuation. The unofficial: anything but. “The Defense Ministry said Tuesday that the ships will rotate with those that have been in the area since November. Russian diplomats said last week that Moscow is preparing plans to evacuate thousands of Russians from Syria if necessary. The ministry did not say whether the navy ships are intended for an evacuation.” Remember that “evacuation” was the pretext when Russia also sent the Grand Missile Cruiser Moskva off the Gaza coast last month at the height of the latest escalation of the Israel-Gaza conflict. The pretext then? “Evacuation” too. Why anyone would send their Black Sea Navy flag ship to ‘evacuate’ a few hundred citizens, all of whom are perfectly proficient with instructions on how to board a plane, is of course, anyone guess.
Alternatively, why Russia would go ahead and do everything to defend its strategic Syria naval base in Tartus, and a regime it has been very sympathetic to in the past, is pretty clear to everyone, especially now that the US and NATO are openly supplying Syria’s northern neighbor Turkey with missiles: for now defensive, or so the media spin goes.
The squadron of five ships that sailed from the Baltic Sea base of Baltiysk includes a destroyer, a tugboat, a tanker and two large amphibious vessels that could evacuate hundreds of people.
Right, evacuation is the Destroyer’s primary role. Look it up: it’s in the SOP. And just in case one squadron was not enough, here is another.
Another group of three navy ships departed Tuesday from Severomorsk, the main base of Russia’s Northern Fleet on the Kola Peninsula.