Russian Warship Docks in Limassol Port En Route to Syria
The anti-missile vessel Smetlivy docked at 11am on July 15th for refueling and to take on food supplies. The warship was kept in the deep waters of the harbour, which is normally for cruise ships that go around the Greek islands. It departed at 5pm.
Today, July 16th, a second Russian vessel arrived at the port, a tugboat named Shakhtar.
There is tight security at the port, and many journalists were turned away by the ports authority on the grounds that they need special permission from the Russian Embassy. Smetlivy is armed with two double-barreled 76 mm AK-726 guns, SAM: two twin launchers, 32 missiles, five 533 mm torpedo tubes, two twelve-barrel RBU-6000 ASW rocket launchers, and eight anti-ship SS-N-25 Uran missiles.
Political analysts here say that Russia wants to show its strength to Turkey, which is a regional power and still angry after Syria shot down one of its F4 jets. Russia is a Syrian ally and is intervening in Syria's civil war by blocking UN Security Council resolutions calling for President Bashar al Assad to be replaced. The jet was in Cyprus airspace just before it entered Syria's. It is a matter of course for Turkey's airforce to fly illegally in the island's airspace since its occupation of the country in 1974.
"Cyprus is small, we are in a difficult position," a ports official told CyprusNewsReport.com.
If a regional war breaks out between Russia, Syria and Turkey, things will get very difficult for the island, he added.
In another complication, Israel and Turkey have gone from being allies to being hostile neighbors after Israeli forces killed nine Turkish-origin activists on their way to break Israel's maritime embargo on the Gaza Strip.
And in the middle of the Eastern Mediterranean are Israel and Cyprus' natural gas fields, which Turkey is eyeing enviously.
According to a Reuters report earlier this week, a total of six Russian navy vessels were despatched to the Eastern Mediterranean from the Black Sea.
Photos: file photo of Smetlivy, view from the dock at Limassol Port.
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